Decisions decisions...

Posted on 10:22 AM by Schottler

Since I submitted my application to Boulder my situation in my current research group has sort of gone south. I won't get in to the details, but it has nearly eliminated an option of staying here for a PhD. Unfortunately, it has also shown what academia is all about, and is making me second guess whether I want to continue on past completing my Masters this summer. All of a sudden, I really need to figure out what it is I want to do if I don't continue on to a PhD.

I have a few options in mind that all include moving to Boulder in August. Ideally, taking a semester or year off while making enough money to live and have fun would be awesome. Getting a job and making real money would be nice as well. A big part of me just wants to experience living in Boulder and enjoying the riding and all that the town has to offer. I have no baggage right now, and this is really the only time of my life I could do something like this. I don't know.

Anyway, training this winter is going sort of slow. I am planning all of my rides on how I feel, if my SI or low back hurts, I will either not ride or spin on the trainer for a little bit. Most likely I will continue the base mileage a little farther into the year as usual since I am getting a slow start on the real long rides. I am planning on not starting any intensity until I consistently feel comfortable. SI pain has been gone for over a week now without any medication, which is great, it seems to be improving week by week. I think the lifting has had a very positive affect. This time last year I couldn't even move my right leg without agonizing sharp pains.

All rides this year have been on snow covered gravel, just like last year. I actually prefer this since handling skills are tested and improved throughout the whole ride, rather than just mindlessly spinning down the road getting only hours in the saddle. After an entire winter of this last year, I noticed a huge improvement in my handling skills. Thankfully the bocomo peloton is always willing to go ride in the cold, snow, and slop. The downside is you are left with a completely trashed bike after every ride.



Graduate School

Posted on 8:23 AM by Schottler

I haven't really talked about what it is I do besides riding bikes and being injured. I graduated May 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. I took fall 2009 off to relax, train, race, and work at the bike shop full time... learning the 'life' isn't all it's cracked up to be. I will say that my first couple years in school I just wanted to be done, with a goal of passing courses and getting a job right out of school to make the big bucks. This lead to pretty bad grades and an eventual understanding of how the real world works, a big dollar job wasn't waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. So, I set a goal to take a detour around the tunnel and take the climb to eventually reach the job I want.

I got excited about the possibly of graduate school from learning through friends in school and those in the the BOCOMO peloton. Although my last couple years of dedication in classes significantly raised my GPA, it wasn't at the 'required' level for graduate school. So, I had to take the GRE. My test taking skills are some of the worst around, but somehow I left them at home that day and blew the math section of the test away, giving MU a reason to accept me. I started my Master of Science in mechanical engineering January 2010. MU offers waived tuition and a stipend through teaching assistance and research assistance. I was lucky enough to land both of them, giving me enough money to live on and getting nearly free education. Both of my advisors have taken a significant interest in what I have been doing with my research, it's as though they haven't come across many people that have a good work ethic with a tenacious personality. This will eventually lead me to graduating with my Master of Science in 1.5 years, a semester or two quicker than predicted.

My Master of Science research in mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia includes computational 3D modeling, simulation, and optimization of biomedical devices. Finite element analysis is conducted on bone screws in various loading scenarios using ABAQUS, followed by optimizing the thread profile for specific applications. Modeling ACL reconstruction in a femur with in-house synthesized hydroxyapatite nanocomposite bone cement is also research in progress. In addition to the modeling and finite element analysis, I am working on synthesizing a bioabsorbable polymer-ceramic nanocomposite to be used in various biomedical devices, including bone screws. This material is created in-house, followed by injection molding of the material to be used for ASTM 3-point bending and tensile testing.

Once completing my Masters by the end of the summer, I will be continuing on to PhD research. My advisor wants me to stay and continue what we are doing, which isn't a bad deal, but I am still interested in a school I have always wanted to attend. University of Colorado-Boulder. I just submitted my application into the mechanical engineering bioengineering PhD program. My advisor isn't very happy about the possibility of me leaving, but still supports my goals. I am happy in Columbia, I have met a lot of friends, and have some great memories. But, a change in scenery would be nice, and Boulder is at the top of the list.

But anyway, I have never liked school. I have despised exams, grades, and reading books. Yet, somehow I have taken an interest to grad school. It takes a good work ethic and dedication, which I have always had. Grades aren't important, it's all research based. I have gone from a mediocre grade school student to entering Mizzou as an engineering student starting in the lowest level math class the University had to offer, intermediate algebra. I was warned that I may not make it through the courses and to have a backup plan. I ended up graduating with a math minor and am now going to start pursuing a PhD, hopefully at the bike racing/training capital of the country. It's safe to say I am happy with the path I'm riding on.

Training

Posted on 8:59 AM by Schottler

I have been lifting now for 2-3 weeks, doing mostly body weight exercises to learn proper form and regain some muscle memory. Last week I ended up riding about 15 hours, probably too much. Pain has come back in my left SI joint (opposite side of last year), with my low back hurting for the majority of the easy rides. I was hoping that the exercises and the extended time off the bike would have put me in a good position to start riding, apparently not.

It is now January 6th and I am headed in the same direction as last year, not good. I'll be taking some advice from Dan Miller and Dr. Curt and put the riding on hold and spend more time in the gym. I will be lifting Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, while doing core work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, in addition to some epic stretching 1-2 times a day. I am going to take a week off the bike and start off slow, increasing the volume a little every week, instead of being my usual impatient self and jump into 15 hour weeks. I have also started taking fish oil and vitamin c supplements, which have been shown to improve joints, so I guess it couldn't hurt.

But anyway, my season will start off slower, but I am more than happy to let that happen so I can survive the whole year. My big races aren't till the middle of the year anyway.