Friday, June 19, 2009

Life and Cycling

This is going to be a non-typical post as I move towards writing a little bit more about life in order to keep some friends and family in the loop. Here goes!


I have to start off by saying that I'm really going to miss some of my coworkers/bosses. I'm spending this summer working (breaking even) at the community health center in middletown. It's a no frills health center with a motto that strikes a chord with me, "health care is a right, not a privilege." Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

My task is basically to fill in the cracks that require filling. I do mostly data entry, taking information gathered from multiple studies and inputting them into a database. The studies that we've been working with are to gauge fitness and implement obesity prevention initiatives in elementary schoolers. I basically input all the data. Some of the entry work is pretty hilarious, as students are asked to state whether plants or animals are better food. I'm sure you can imagine the heart wrenching responses.

Some of the funniest/cutest ones I've seen so far are:

-I guessed.
-Animals are god's children too. We can't eat god's children!
-Because if we eat plants we don't kill animals.

You get the picture.

Back to my coworkers. One of my friends yesterday needed my ID badge to get back into the building after his lunch break. I was making fun of him, as his ID card doesn't work, and I was trying to convince him to make me a PBJ in exchange for all the times I'd lent him my card. In jest of course.

My boss, Marie, overheard me saying this to him. About 10 minutes after he left, I had a delicious PBJ sandwich presented to me. Thanks Marie!

My coworkers have also been presenting me with buy one get one free subway sandwich cards. I think they all know how much I ride and need to eat. It's pretty amusing.

As I had said, I'm going to miss them. They were all here working under a grant, and will be leaving with the completion of that grant. I think most of them are shuffling around in the organization, so I'm hoping to stay in touch with them all soon.


As a cyclist, I eat a ton. Groceries are starting to get a lot more expensive than I thought they would. I was shocked to see that my bargain hunting skills changed the price of my weekly booty from $98 to $76. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to go back and buy more lunch meat soon or I won't have my daily lunch sandwich...

I splurged a little the other day when I bought 3 packs of chicken breast. They were all on sale (half price!) because it was close to their sell by date, so of course I had to buy 3. Usually, I just end up buying ground chicken or beef since it's really easy to cook a ton of that with vegetables and eat that with pasta and pasta sauce.

Back to the chicken breast. One was made into chicken biryani with a friend, I made orange chicken with the second, and I cooked (attempted to) a sort of indian chicken curry with the third. Well, the chicken curry wasn't much of a curry and I had to let the sauce evaporate off because it wasn't thick enough. Luckily, it still tasted pretty good. I've been lucky that way, and haven't had terribly bad cooking experiments. That's a good thing considering that I've never really used a recipe book for cooking, even though I bookmark recipes all the time. I really should call my dad and ask him how he makes the curry. I feel that the ladies would be far more impressed with my cooking prowess if I could cook indian food. That being said, I miss eating homemade indian food. A lot of it such as Daal (lentils) are also quite easy to make in bulk and store either in the fridge or frozen. Add rice, and you're good to go.

As I tend to eat a ton, and days with 3-4 hr rides don't lend themselves well to cooking, I end up cooking in bulk often. I'll cook up enough veggies/meat for 3 or so days of food and cook pasta as needed. I started doing this during the school year because it was cheaper to cook, and I enjoy eating food that I prepare instead of random stuff at the cafeteria.

I've also taken a big brown box and started storing my food in there. This way, I'll have my own stash of food that my housemates will hopefully stay away from, and if I have my own food, I'm less likely to devour all their food when I come back starving after a 4 hour ride. I think the latter is more worrying. I do sometimes splurge and buy enough bread for the house, and bought a ton of pasta recently. I'm probably going to have to have one of my housemates buy me a big bottle of cheap red or white wine. I'm running out of cooking wine, and I have a feeling that the cooking wine is going to be much more expensive than a bottle of cheap wine, not to mention more versatile...


More on the break-even summer.

I wanted this summer to be my stint as a bike racer, but there's one big difference: I have a job lined up at school in the fall so I can afford to break even.

Let's think about this for a second...

I'm 20, and I'm at the stage of my life where I'm content being broke. I quite like it. Currently, working about 35ish hours a week, I make about 270 bucks a week at my job after taxes. I've had better jobs at home, but I wanted to stay in Middletown with friends and race in the area I know best. Let's go with 1000 a month, okay?

I pay 350 bucks a month for rent.
I'm down to 650 bucks.
I budget about 100 bucks a week for food expenses. Down to 250 bucks.

And the rest is pretty much going to racing fees, travel, and misc expenses. So it's pretty much the break even summer. Even then I've gotten lucky and managed to break even on two weekends of racing. That was pretty nice!!!

A few weeks ago, my car broke down and I had to pay 550 bucks to get it repaired. Now, I'd be in the red. Luckily, I had my last paycheck from a job at school come in and it footed the bill since it was a once a month check. If that hadn't come in, I would have had to dip into the emergency fund. I don't want to go below a set 'basal' amount in my bank account this entire summer just so I can get a hold of everything. I feel that a lot of my generation and the one before me has a knack for living out of their means, and I'd like to see how well I'd manage with just the bare minimum. I'm pretty sure getting around 1000 a month is pretty close to that.

I still have a huge advantage though.I can still get health insurance off my parents for the summer. I don't even want to think about how many more hours I'd have to put in if I wanted to be able to afford that as well.

After graduation next year, it's a whole different ball game. I've been thinking about grad school for a while, but I don't want to go straight after college. I figure I'm going to be content being broke for a bit, so I might as well have some adventures during that time. I think I want to stick around in the Middletown area and train and race for a year or two. That is unless I can land a job in Austin or SoCal. That would be divine!

Just thinking about this has given me so much respect for the athletes that are trying to 'make it' in this sport. I enjoy this and I'm trying to have some fun with it for a few years before heading back into the 'real world' but this is their real world.

Respect. Respect. Respect.

I wish them success.

Cycling: Rest Week.

I've been on a rest week this week, which I was really looking forward to. I took a short recovery ride on monday, took off tuesday, and did some light tempo and lactate threshold work on weds and thurs. Today's another recovery day.

I was thinking that I'd really enjoy this time of less riding, but I really don't like it. After 4 weeks of harder riding, my body started getting used to having a tougher workload and liked the increased volume. I've been feeling really sluggish this entire week, and was sore for the first time after a workout on thursday morning. I've also been sleeping a lot more lately and waking up feeling tired. I don't know how I feel about rest weeks. I think I'm going to start taking some more time off the bike and/or do other things in addition to riding on rest weeks. I'd love to go hiking with my friends or go out and play frisbee or tennis and I haven't done that at all this summer. I'm only 20, I might as well take advantage of my body's ability to recover.

I'm not sure how the next two weeks are going to go. I'm racing 2-3 times next weekend, and the weekend after that is going to be a pseudo rest week since I'll be in Virginia beach almost all week at a family gathering. There are a few good group rides in the area, so I think I'm going to head out to a group ride everyday and hopefully be able to latch on for some tougher ones. Hopefully there will be a race or two that I can go to either during the week (thursday nighter?) or on saturday. We'll see. I can't do fitchburg, which is a huge bummer since it's an awesome stage race and I feel like I'm finally seeing some good form. I guess my body loves the volume. I'll have plenty of time to race and train till mid august when I start up training at school. I'm hoping I can still keep up the training and racing schedule going till the season ends in the fall. Hopefully I can help a few guys on the team get some points as well.

As for this weekend, I'm racing in Charlestown, RI this weekend. Doing the Mystic Velo crit in ninigret. It might be rainy, so I'm going to watch the weather before heading down. There are also two good races in NYC this weekend, but I'm not heading to those since a 4 hr round trip is really unnecessary. I'm also missing the Housatonic Hills Road race this weekend, which is a huge bummer because I'd love to do a hilly road race. I'm a little leery about fast descents. My confidence in my descending ability isn't back yet, and I'd rather take things one at a time. It's supposed to rain on sunday as well, and doing my first road race in over a year in the pouring rain on a hilly course doesn't sound like a good time.

Oh well.

Off to RI tomorrow!

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