Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Biology quiz - Gym bags

Your subtitle here

What item when put into your gym bag wet, will dry in a day or two ?

It's a trick question. Nothing will dry in the bag.

I will not elaborate further.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Race Report from Hank - Guest post

Hank tearing it up at Starcrossed in 2009

My teammate Hank, sent me this great race report that seemed so realistic I was pitted out just reading it. With his permission here it is:

Forty four souls lined up for the 50+ start, including Kerry Farrell - a guy who often races Masters 1-2, last year’s 50+ WA BARR winner- Tom Potter, Steve Holland - a strong guy from Oregon, Tom Hackleman, Alistair Lockett - multiple 50+ BARR winner, Roy and Kevin - our Wines ‘cross buddies, Chuck who knows Tom B and Kevin from VM and who went to Provence with the guys, and a lot of the guys you see at the 50+ races.

I recall John saying that neither the first or second hill were any big deal, so I was having a hard time understanding why I was seeing cross eyed 5 miles into a 40 mile race. At that point I knew it was going to be a long, hard day in the saddle. The laps were a bit more than 19 miles. Two of those plus a 1.5 mile neutral start brought the total to around 40. I’d say 4-8 riders were separated the first time up the first hill. I managed to latch back on, but had gone seriously into the red and started riding defensively, which led to some tactical errors later on.

The descents were fast and fun with no braking needed as long as you weren’t coming up on a wheel. The group stayed more or less together on the flats en route to the second hill, which was maybe .8 mile and not as steep as the first. Maybe another one or two were spit out the back the first time up hill 2. I should know since more often than not I was among those at the back.

Shortly after the 2nd hill, Farrell, Potter, Alistair and a couple of others got a gap. The bunch was pretty lackadaisical in chasing. Turns out those with teammates up the road were rotating to the front and just sitting. Being at the back of a 30 rider field on narrow roads with a strict center line rule in force made it really difficult to move up and there wasn’t much I could do – supposing I wanted to do something. A group of another five at the front got frustrated and just slowly rode off the front. I think Roy was in this group.

Eventually I got to the front and with 3 or 4 others started working to try close the gap, having to work around the teammate blockers. It was super frustrating watching the second group go. Had I been in position, I think I could have bridged early on. So lesson number 1 was not being more aggressive staying towards the front, even if riding defensively.

I was taking my third turn at the front. I knew we were getting close to the second time up the first hill. This baby was around 1.25 miles and an average of 5% - similar to Madrona without the flat. We finally had a decent rotation, which I wanted to keep going. A First Rate, who’d been sitting on, jumped on the hill. I think most of the bunch came by as I struggled to recover. The field exploded on the hill with guys strewn all over it. By the top I think I’d made my way back through about half of them. On the descent I hooked up with an Apex, an Old Town and Chuck. The four of us worked like dogs trying to catch the main field, which we could see just up the road. To no avail. So lesson 2 was not knowing exactly where we were, pulling into the hill, and being at a deficit at the start of the climb. I think this was the main reason I didn’t finish with the main group. Lesson 3 may have been doing too much work; after getting the rotation started I probably should have not spent so much time on the front. Turns out the second grupetto and part of the first were reabsorbed on the hill. Lesson 4 – I don’t know if this was in the cards, I was pretty spent at the top of the climb – was not finding some secret reserve on the hill in a last ditch effort to catch the main group.

The four of us kept plowing on. Several times I was thinking of calling mama, but I could tell by the look on the others’ faces that the feeling was mutual. Not far after the second hill I was amazed to see that Roy and an Apex had caught us. Roy looked surprisingly strong, but the Apex looked shattered. So now we were 6. The 1K to go sign came, the Apex was first wheel and I was second. Roy came around and I jumped on his wheel. Shortly after 200m I jumped again, looked around and saw I had 10-15 yards. At the time I felt that Roy had come around to spell the Apex. I was feeling guilty and sat up just before the line. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of blue and white. It was the Old Town, who pipped me at the line. For 20th to my 21st. LOL. Lesson, let’s see, oh yeah, 5 - if you’re going to sprint, regardless of circumstances, you’re not done until you cross the line.

This was the hardest I’d worked all year. I had an average speed of almost 23 mph, which is more like what I’m used to in a crit. And this is off the back. And early season. With hills. And wind. My second half of the race might have been better than the first. In my grupetto a couple of times a small gap grew unintentionally when I was leading. The first hill came as a shock to the system and I probably over reacted –in retrospect there probably were others hurting as much as I. So lesson 6 – be patient; if one has not so good legs early on, they just might get better; and don’t panic, others might be hurting as much as you.

Kevin our Wines buddy finished in the main group at 15th. Roy our other Wines buddy finished just behind me in 22nd. The First Rate who jumped on the hill finished 17th. Chuck who was solid throughout the slog finished 25th. Farrell, who was off the front with a few others, won the race in what was reputedly a photo finish.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Around the Lake

Le Canonball

In a weird mix of old and new I rode around Lake Washington with some good friends. Le Canonball from my FSI days was his jovial self. Spontaneous sprints spewed from his powerful legs. We were joined by our old spinning Instructor (who shall remain nameless at this point in time..). She is a newbie to cycling, but is super fit and her body fat percentage does not contain an integer. She rode like a beast.

You're kidding, that was the hill ?

Our Saturday was dry with high clouds and it was nice. No records, but a good start. I'm looking forward to riding with Hottie in some warm weather !!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Farewell Lily

With tears in our eyes we held Lily in our arms and said goodbye to our pop up pup. She finished her race, and what a race it was. We miss her already.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Long Beach

Hottie and Lily and i went to the beach this weekend. This picture kind of sums up the trip. Photos, a pup, water, and some down time....

DeFeet Kneekers and Hincapie knee warmers Review

I’ll tell you what I like about both and why.

DeFeet Kneekers
I love these. They are very reasonably priced, which is very important. They are black and a mix of cool max and who knows what. I believe they also make ones that are wool (or a wool blend) and I am sure they are absolute wonderfulness as well. The Kneekers are knit and that helps them breath very well. There is a lighter open weave in the back and a denser weave up front where you can use some wind protection. They have an amazing temperature range and stuff fairly well. They are okay for moderate rain, but the open weave holds water and holds mud such that I would never consider wearing these for a ‘cross race. They can be worn low, almost like leg warmers, or high like the knee warmers they are. They are extremely comfy on the skin and my legs have never felt clammy or sweaty in these. While a warming day sometimes beckons you to remove a piece of clothing by getting uncomfortable, these have never raised a voice of protest. Because they are knit there is a bit of a three dimensional aspect to these so they don’t stuff as tiny as a Lycra model. One last bit of trivia. I have some leg warmers that are slippery lycra and the hem of my bibs sometimes slides up because the fabric is so smooth (and the elastic on my bibs is so old). These Kneekers have enough texture that I get no ride up of my bibs with these. This is a great performing product, and at the price a must have.

Hincapie Roubaix Knee warmers
I love these as well. I bought them off eBay so they weren’t too expensive in this instance. Sadly I had to modify them right out of the gate because the calf elastic was too loose. I will point out that I am not some pencil legged rider who has to look to the ends of the earth to find clothing that fits. My legs curve in all the right places and within range of all the right amounts. The rest of the knee warmer fit me just swell. The fabric is nice and these are great if it is raining or likely to do so. They don’t hold water and have a reasonable temperature range. They stay up which some don’t. In my mind, any knee, leg or arm warmers that don’t stay up are giveaway items no matter how much they cost or what logos are on them. I get a little bib creep with the smooth fabric, but that is acceptable. The elastic at the top and bottom is high quality and they are well constructed. When I did the Solvang double I wore these the whole day and they held up their end of the bargain. They roll up and stash well. When it is cool and especially if it is likely to be wet, these can make the difference between comfort and misery.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hey I think I’m being smart

Using my head !

My ride this Sunday didn’t feel too bad at the time, but it left me pretty tired. After doing weights this morning the trifecta of a late meeting, rain, and feeling like another day off the bike might feel pretty good persuaded me to skip my lunchtime ride today. My logic is that rather than log some tired miles that do little for my fitness other than keep my tired legs tired, I’ll wait another day until I can ride fast with fresh legs and train my body to go fast.

This is in stark contrast to 2009 when I would log miles to log miles and by the end I had perfected riding almost fast on tired legs.

Longest Ride so far, Shortest Ride so far

Hottie in the saddle last summer

Before I get rolling on this subject; please indulge me. I used to take great umbrage when MSWord or the like would correct words I didn’t want corrected as I typed them. Now when my fingers say wehn i tpye thansk it comes out when I type thanks and I’m okay with that. In fact, when I type something close and it doesn’t correct it, I am torn between thinking my spelling program is stupid, and outright frustration that it didn’t correct the spelling. I end up thinking, “I’ve actually got to hit backspace and retype it?” The origins of laziness are born.

This weekend I got up early (DST and all) and rode down for the team ride on Sunday. I rode with the lads and then a mile from hot coffee I turned right and rode home. It was just over 62 miles (100k for my European followers). It didn’t even faze me. I could have gone another fifty and not flinched. I didn’t even realize it was my longest ride until today. After I got home and cleaned up, Hottie had her 2010 debut on the road two months and two days since her surgery. We went for a short ride on the Burke Gilman trail and she did great. I checked and the ride with her was my shortest ride of the year as well. I sincerely enjoyed them both. I think the latter was more fun because I got to kiss the person I rode with.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weight training update

My body feels like I spent all night tumbling in a clothes dryer.

But just like this guy, I'm still hanging on.
So just ride over top of me..

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

But weight, there’s more !

Flex !

Don’t worry, I’m not selling knives or vegetable choppers. As a matter of fact I did mean to say weight. I began my weight program today so I thought I would type this before losing the use of my arms. I took the specific exercises from Coach Joe’s book. I did squats today. Up until this day all the squats I had done had been on backpacking trips. All the other exercises were already in the Evo memory bank. Bench press, leg press, calf raises, seated row, and many more. As I walked down the stairs from the weight area to the shower I could feel my legs and upper body. It wasn’t a hot burning, but a warm feeling that told me blood was pumping and muscles will be feeling their age in no time.

We all get so comfortable doing what we do that we seldom venture beyond our comfort zones. This can range from my dear Mum staying in the same room in the same hotel when she makes her annual snow bird transitions, to riding the same routes at the same pace week after week. I recall back in 1993 I had hit a plateau in my running and was as stale as a Seven Eleven donut. I read an article about Frank Shorter and some training revelations he had as a masters runner. I began including speed work in my running routines and I get faster and dropped weight. I think my cycling has been in the same category and I am hoping the weight work and some of the other things will show benefits.

In for a Penny or a Pound ?

A good bike can last a long time !

A good friend is taking her first steps into cycling. This is a delicate issue. On the one hand I want her to benefit from years of experience that Hottie and I have and point her toward high quality components, good shorts and shoes and a plethora of other niceties that add up to a bucket load of money. On the other hand, I want to tell her just buy a bike and ride it. As a huge fan of Irony I have to point out that this “just go and do it” philosophy is a hallmark of Rivendell who shuns fancy shorts and shoes. The oddity is that at the same time they tell you to keep it simple, they smile while charging thousands of dollars for only slightly-better-than-average steel framed bikes.

Before the introduction of the compact crank most “entry level” bikes were triples which just exacerbated typically mediocre shifting. This also made selecting the right gearing even more complex. Likewise, if one views cycling as most sports where you want to try it before you invest big dollars, you must REALLY like biking to find it enjoyable with poor shorts (ouch), a cheap seat (ouch again) and marginal bike performance. As I recall my own humble beginnings I just swung my leg over and rode. I also recall the wonderment as I got better shorts (ahhhh) and a high quality saddle (a miracle under my ass). When I built up a bike with Ultegra components, I felt the shifting was being assisted by the hand of God. The wonderful news is that the mid and low end components of today are so much better than they were even a few years ago. It is hard to go wrong here in 2010.

Clothing is also such a critical component to riding enjoyment !

So we face the dilemma of convincing our friend to spend twice what she planned, or telling her to tough it out. She isn’t a size where we can loan her much besides an earband, and I’m not aware of any Giordana loaner program so I’ll keep an eye out and let you all know later.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Hint of summer

Ride laundry !

I have previously discussed my desire to keep some boundaries between my actual life and this blog. It should therefore be a surprise to see a photo of my ride laundry. The point of the picture it that after a hard ride I didn't have the usual seasonal pile of laundry, I had a typical summer weight load. It was sunny and in the mid sixties yesterday. Evo rode a TT and went sans gloves. In addition I was without tights, knee warmers, arm warmers, a vest, or an earband. I had no long sleeved jersey, no jacket, no monster gloves.

Today I went out with the team and logged another good one. Hottie is on the road to happy and I can't wait to ride with her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tempting Fate – Confessions and Training Notes

I just love this picture ! I look FAST !!

I guess I should come right out and say it. I want to get faster. I love riding bikes. I don’t have to go fast all the time. I really don’t mind at all going slow with a group or friend. Still, there are times when I want to go fast. In the past, when these times came along I was able to pick it up and hammer with the best. The last couple of years I felt like I have worked harder only to get slower. I was really much more comfortable being one of the guys at the top of the climb waiting for the slow guys to catch up than being one of those slow guys.

February was a very pivotal month for me, training-wise. I got my chocolate chip cookie stained fingers on a copy of Joe Friel’s Training Bible. I put in two rides of over 50 miles (or 80 kilometers for my European readers). Hottie wowed me with a set of rollers for Valentine’s Day. I’m committed to the Davis Double Century. I also touched base with the members of my coaching cooperative.

Some revelations:
I sure did it wrong in 2009. I did next to no strength work, and I allowed myself no recovery. I logged all the wrong miles. I had a poor base going into the CX season. I was a slave to the Sunday team rides. I didn’t recover from the cross season until after ground hog day.

Some ideas:
Joe (Friel) says us old guys should NEVER compromise recovery and we should do weights all year long. In 2009 I was 0 for 2 on those items. For 2010 I’m going to get religious about weight work. I used to have the strength to ride up walls and that ability has left my body. I am hoping weights will bring it back. Joe says to build a base and beware of the group rides that often turn into mini races. I missed the long rides around Lake Washington with Hottie in 2009 and so I’ll look forward to her certain return to the bike and do some long ones in the meantime. I used to train for one or more macho rides (RAMROD, Tour de Blast, High Pass Challenge, STP in a day, etc) and I haven’t in the last couple years so I’m adding the DDC for 2010 to help me build some miles.

I was tracking too many of the wrong things, so I’m trying to adopt a smarter way for 2010. Number of workouts is a bad metric. Time in training zones looks to be a better barometer. In my total OCD way I’ve built a training plan and we will see if the focused structure pays off. I should point out that in the past when I have undertaken improvement via a structured plan; I have usually met with disaster. Coincidentally, on a recent ride, Kevin confided that he did a similar thing in 2009 with a plan, a coach and amazing structure. He related that he had his worst year ever. For 2010 he is focusing on time off the bike and seems to be on a totally opposite path than I am. We are both looking forward to our collective results. Maybe I should just not worry about it and increase my intake of Bacon !