Meet Frank, My Mentor

Do you have a mentor? Not the work kind, but more like a training mentor? Not like Lance Armstrong (though that would be awesome), but more like someone who makes you just a little bit better every time you train.

For me, that person is Frank (pictured). Funnily enough, I work with Frank as well, and I've learned from him inside the office too. Not just about work either, but about everything from how the brain works to Spanish culture and even the history of the Tour de France, among many other topics.
But this isn't a blog about cubicles, meetings, brainstorming, paradigm shifts or any other corporate-sounding crap.
Frank is a fantastic cyclist. He's had the great fortune of growing his skills in the Swiss Alps as well as Austin, Texas. In other words, the dude can climb. And he's not one of these small, gazelle-like climbers that you see wearing the polka-dot jersey in the Tour de France. (No, I'm not saying you're fat, Frank!) I get a special kick out of watching Frank obliterate unsuspecting (and pompous) cyclists up and down the many hills that dot the Malibu Canyon area. They generally have no idea what just passed them.
Each weekend for almost a year now, I've had the privilege of cycling with Frank. He's taught me how to get the most out of my body during long climbs. He's taught me to recognize when my right foot is pointing inward on my pedal stroke. He's taught me to trust my bike more, too, though that went a little too far this past April when I turned my first road bike into a mountain bike as I flew off the road in Santa Susana Pass in Simi Valley. That wasn't Frank's fault though, as I was trying too hard to keep up with someone with 20 years of cycling experience and didn't have enough understanding or appreciation of physics, gravity and the importance of taking a proper line.
Plus, we all know that there are two kinds of cyclists: Those who have crashed and those who haven't crashed yet.
I rode with Frank today on a leisurely but brisk (56 degrees) and windy (cross-winds nearly the whole way) 2:12 stroll from Northridge to Calabasas and back. Details here:
I maintained a steady average HR of 129, which was the goal (staying in Zone 2 for at least 50% of the ride). Frank was great about supporting my ride goals and not dropping me, as he can often do. Since I'm a sucker for peer pressure, I really appreciated the assist.
No matter how hard Frank pushes me, he always helps me improve. And no matter how badly he wants to open up the throttle and pedal hard the entire ride, he always holds back and waits for me to catch up.
That's the definition of a teacher. A friend. And a mentor.
After my ride, my workout was only half-way complete. I was supposed to swim for 45 minutes at a cadence of 44-45 strokes per minute. I haven't been in a pool for at least two weeks and therefore expected to do much worse.
Turns out that hopping in the pool is kinda like remember how to ride a bicycle.
Despite some general rustiness that might be attributed to ride fatigue or lactic-muscle build-up, the swim was pleasant and rewarding. I typically was in the 43-46 strokes-per-minute range, though I did get down to 39 once by using my legs a lot more. I have a feeling though that's a bad idea come Ironman time. But, I'm sure I'll learn more as I go.
Maybe I need a swimming mentor?

352 days and counting.