Thursday, September 3, 2009

August Mileage, Fitness Survey

Total mileage for August was 436.4 miles, which is down about 100 miles from July. I'm surprised I got that many miles in, to be honest. August was a rough month, and I'm just now starting to feel like my old self.

Today I got out for about 23 miles in windy but very nice temperatures. The ride turned out to serve as an indicator for my current fitness although it didn't start out that way. The summary:
  • Overall I feel my top end aerobic and anaerobic fitness is down 10-20% from a high in June. Holding a tempo pace (HR of 165-175) is extremely comfortable and will move me along at about 25 mph, I feel like I could keep this pace up for quite a while. Short spurts up hills that drive my HR slightly higher do not require a huge recovery afterwards.
  • Coming back into town I faced a wicked 20 mph headwind while climbing up Lake Wheeler Rd. This reduced my pace to about 15-16 mph, which felt pretty pathetic. What does this mean? My ability to ride at slightly over threshold is way, way down from where it was. The Lactic Acid built up in my legs very rapidly, and was not cleared very quickly.
  • The above indicates that I need to return to base/zone 2 aerobic work and rebuild some of my low level aerobic fitness. This is good, since I will be returning to doing base soon anyway, and indicates that I am mostly on track as far as an annual training plan goes.
On Penny Rd, about a half mile before the Lake Wheeler intersection, I was passed by a car as I took a sip from my bottle. I looked down as I returned the bottle to its cage. When I returned by gaze to the road in front of me, there was a deer standing across the centerline about 50 feet away. I said some choice expletives, grabbed the brakes for a half second then dove left, aft of the deer. It suddenly noticed me and bolted, fortunately in the direction it was already pointing, losing traction on all 4 hooves in the process. It was kind of funny to watch it skitter off the road. It just reinforces that letting your attention wander for even a second can be fatal, even on a seemingly empty, flat, smooth stretch of road.

Tomorrow, a solo ride. Saturday, probably the CSH ride. Sunday, the Centennial training crit. Monday, probably more riding.

On an only tangentially-related note, a friend and me have been toying around with different novel configurations of vehicles for a while. We both abhor the dynamic idiocy that is inherent to 4 wheeled vehicles, but at the same time are leary of the dangers of motorcycles. He stumbled on this website recently, which frankly is the most brilliant and ingenious solution to the vehicle dynamics problem I have ever seen. I'm still kind of in awe of how elegant his solution is.
http://www.tiltingvehicle.net/

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ugh

Since I got back to school I've been doing a little more riding. Maybe 100 miles a week if that. On pretty much all the rides I've done my HR has been elevated, and I've felt low on power. I'm not sure if this is lost fitness or the heat, because it's gotten ungodly hot here in the past 3 weeks - highs in the mid 90s with 85% + humidity. It sucks pretty hard.

I also have not been sleeping great for the past week. I'm not sure if it's due to lack of exercise now that I'm not burnt out, or what.

I rode a couple days in a row with the team, with the last ride being Tuesday. I didn't get back on the bike until today. The old "can't sit still twitchy as hell" feeling was out in force this morning, so despite my exhaustion (sleep deprivation) I saddled up and headed out.

I tested out a new way south of town that looked okay on paper, but is awful awful awful in real life. That combined with feeling like someone had put a 10 lb bag of sand on my bike put me in a foul mood. The traffic was bat-shit crazy as well. So, I get down to about 1010 road, make a right to head back in, and the f#$&ing sky opens up. Great - exhausted, feeling like I have heat stroke, now soaking wet, with no lights. Awesome.

So, the short story: Still feel like shit, had a crappy ride today that reminded me why Raleigh sucks. Oh, and a hurricane is rolling through so tomorrow is going to be even worse than today. I may skip the CSH group ride. On a positive note, the weather Sunday is supposed to be nicer, and there's a crit on Centennial I am planning on doing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Burnout, Big Time

So I haven't updated since the French Broad....

I kept doing the Northside ride Tuesday and Thursday, and slowly started hurting more and more. Long story short, I decided to take a vacation from the bike after being shelled from the ride last Tuesday's ride (2 Tuesdays ago). I've been overtrained since mid-July I think.

Anyway, I'm going for a ride a little later today that will be my first time on the bike in over a week. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Oh my legs...

I did the French Broad River Road Race today out in Marshall, NC. It's a brutal course:

Going into this race my plan was to use the first climb to form a group of about 10 to 15 and stay away to the second climb, where I'd try to shell as many as possible.

Well things didn't exactly go as planned. Foothills, your course description is spot-on. A sadist could not have designed a more wicked race course than this one. The first 20 miles are brutal, and the pace stayed high. Basically, there is no way to come into the first major climb with fresh legs.

I started this climb near the back (big mistake), and had trouble finding my rhythm for the first couple of miles. I went into it way too hard, blew up pretty spectacularly and had to recover while finishing the climb. I topped the climb with a group of 4, which became about 10 by the time we hit the river. This section is fast and fun. Even working hard in a rotating paceline, we didn't make up any time on the leaders, but we were still moving at about 30 mph.

I was able to climb the second mountain a lot better based on my performance on the first one - I had a target heart rate that would keep me from blowing up, and was remembering how to really climb a mountain. I gained one place on this climb for a finish in 32nd in the Cat 4 field. So not great, but not terrible either considering I haven't ridden in the mountains since early spring.

The race pretty much went like I thought it would, I was just not in a position to do anything about it: the first climb forced a selection, about 15 to 20 riders in the lead group I would guess, which stayed together until the second climb when the race was decided.

I have to say the race was incredibly well run - plenty of corner marshalls, plenty of highly talented motos, and a fast and easy sign-in. The only sticking point: no wheel trucks. Fortunately I didn't need one, but you should have heard the groan when they announced that.

Many thanks to the town of Marshall for letting us take over for a day!

One final point.... the return trip from the finish line to Marshall is a major hoot. It's almost entirely downhill, and coming off the mountain I think I hit about 50 mph. Lots of fun, and a nice cool down from the race.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Great race, great course.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Shiny

I'm not really in the mood to write a post today, so I will throw up some pictures for your viewing pleasure...

First, some shots of my completed fixed gear:





The pictures do not really do the frame justice - it is much shinier in person.

Second, some pictures of my new component group, SRAM Rival...










Prodigious use of electrical tape was employed to route two under-bartape cables on a single channel bar.

I have about 70 miles on the group so far. Initial impressions are extremely positive - the shifters are incredibly comfortable and feel very natural and solid in my hand. The cables are still stretching, so every so often the shifting goes wonky, but so far I would say upshifts (to harder gears) are faster than Shimano, while downshifts are a little slower. However, I'm still re-wiring my brain on how to shift, so take those observations with a grain of salt.

The drivetrain seems a little noisier, but I'm using a KMC chain with a SRAM cassette and I did not lube the chain - all it has on it is the factory lube, which does very little to quiet things down.

Not having cables coming out of the shifters still looks very strange to my eye... Kind of like there's nothing holding the shifters in place, so they should fall "inward". I love the clean look though.

The bar tape that came with the red hoods (aftermarket items, BTW) is nice - it really damps a lot of the road noise out. It's made by 3m, so I have hopes that it will be long-lasting and stay looking clean.

Did the Paceline ride this morning. Kathleen was leading it so it was a little faster than usual - 21.6 mph on a windy day. My perceived pain is all screwed up - I hurt at about 160 bpm, where in March I could get up to about 180 bpm before I really started to feel bad. I was hanging with the group fine, though.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Burnout

What a change from last Tuesday, when I felt on top of the world. Thursday's Northside was tough for me - I contested a lot of the sprints and did more than my share of the work. By the end of the ride I was pretty cooked, and had to take myself out of the rotation after almost taking out my own front wheel twice. I bailed on the Friday ride - I could tell I needed a couple of days off to recover.

Friday I took it easy - stayed completely off the bike. My stomach had been bothering me for reasons unknown for a couple of days. I did get over to Cycles de Oro and ordered SRAM Rival, which should be here Thursday!

Saturday I did the Red, White and Blue ride out of Hagan Stone Park. The ride started early, and I did not eat enough beforehand - rode over there, too. I met up with Will Shore and a couple of other guys and we decided to do the 70 mile route. About 25 miles in I was having trouble holding Will's wheel (well, pretty much everyone's wheel) and knew something was wrong with me. I bailed on the way back and cut it short to about 50 miles total. I bonked pretty hard coming back in. The main problem on this ride was I just could not injest and absorb enough food to dig myself out of the caloric hole I was in, in addition to feeling like absolute shit. Lesson learned: don't plan to get on the bike less than an hour after getting up - my body needs more time to get my metabolic engine fired back up.

So I plan to go very easy this week. Will probably skip the Northside ride and do just enough easy riding to keep my legs from going nuts. I have been eating insane amounts of food this weekend, so I might not have been eating enough these past couple weeks when I've been going hard. I've also felt really tired, despite getting plenty of sleep each night. My legs feel weak and "dead", so all signs are pointing to taking an easy week.

In other news, I decided a couple weeks ago to strip and repaint my fixie. Originally I planned to just repaint it black, but after stripping the frame I decided the brushed aluminum look was so pretty to leave most of the frame bare. This weekend I got all of the painting done. It looks really good. The painted parts (the headtube and a few inches of the adjacent top and down tubes, and the rear dropouts and a few inches of the stays) got 3 coats of primer, with spot sanding in between, then 3 coats of high gloss black paint. The brushed alu sections were sanded with around 400 grit paper, then cross-sanded to give it a brushed look. It came out really well. Then the whole bike was given 3 to 4 coats of clear coat, to protect the bare aluminum and the paint. After the paint fully cures later this week, I will take some 800 grit paper to it, then polish it. It's going to look very nice when I build it back up.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

June Wrap-up

June was a good month: 557 miles, which is my highest-mileage month after January. My fitness is good - probably the best it's ever been. Yesterday I did the Tuesday Northside ride. We averaged 23 mph for 41 miles, and I was one of 4 or 5 guys driving the pace and contesting sprints. A couple of weeks ago this same ride, at a slightly slower pace, was kicking my ass. Granted there are a lot of variables I can't account for by just comparing the two rides, but my feeling is my fitness is better than it was a couple weeks ago.

I've been concentrating more on my intensity work. Monday I did about 1.5 hours of LT intervals. I managed 6 of them, which is twice as many as normal, and a much higher pace. Duration was from 2 to 5 minutes per interval. My feeling is I now need to do a little work on my anaerobic acceleration for sprints.

The Saturday Paceline line has turned into a nice, easy social recovery ride for me. A year ago I could not hang with this group - what a change!

Overall, I have about 3,055 miles for the year. This is already several hundred over my total for last year. Riding this much feels great - being on the bike feels incredibly natural. Average weekly mileage is around 150 or slightly above. This is a slow, slight ramp-up from about 100 per week a couple of months ago.

Tomorrow, the Northside ride again. Friday, I may join a group riding to Hanging Rock and back, which depending on the route might be my first century.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A quick update...

Life's been pretty crazy for the last week or so. Last week I rode about 280 miles total - waaay up from what I've been averaging. I finished the week off Sunday with a solo 70 mile circumnavigation of Kerr Lake. It was a pretty flat ride, and I averaged 19.0 mph - not too bad. It was a fun route.

This week my focus has shifted a bit to pick up some more speed and interval work instead of big miles - my own inadvertent "periodization", if you will. I took Monday off, didn't get out Tuesday because of the weather, got in about 20 miles Wed that went okay... I was dog-tired so I felt really sluggish doing intervals. Today I should have ridden but didn't get out. It's okay - this weekend I will probably get a short ride Friday and longer rides Saturday and Sunday. I will be skipping my Paceline ride because I'm going back up to Kerr for the weekend.

Picked up a new saddle for my fixed-gear from Cycles de Oro and threw that on tonight. Took a pseudo-scientific stab at getting it in the same place as my road bike and I think it's pretty close.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"That's the First Time I've Seen You Suffer a Bit"

Did the Northside hammerfest tonight - 40 miles of all-out, give-me-all-you've-got-if-you-want-to-hold-his-wheel riding. Exquisitely painful.

As we were rolling in on a greenway I'm chatting with a guy who does the Saturday Paceline ride and he says something like, "Yeah, that's the first time I've seen you suffer a bit." I was flattered - maybe I'm stronger than I think, or maybe I am just good at hiding how much pain I'm in.

I went out too hard in the first 10 or 15 miles of the ride, so for the rest of it my attacks and bridging attempts came up short. The longest bridge was a solid mile or two of slight headwind, flat riding trying to solo bridge up to the lead group of about 6 very strong riders. I felt good for most of it, was steadily closing the huuuge gap they had, was using the terrain to my advantage,,,, then I started to get a stitch in my right side. I could feel myself fading fast, the exhaust from the farm truck trailing them wasn't helping. I gave it all I had on a slight downhill, sprinting to try and catch the last wheel. I got about 20 feet away and then they went charging up a short rise, and that was the end of me. HR peaked in the high 180s. Three minutes later when the second chase group went by I felt fine, and was able to jump on and do some more work.

The fact that my HR didn't get above 190 or so the whole ride indicates that I may be sleep deprived - I've noticed before that can really take the edge off my performance.

Later in the ride I was working in a break of 5 (inc. me). HR was in the 150s and 160s, despite the 30 mph speed we were holding. In a small group like this that was continuously rotating, most of the work came in the form of anaerobic spurts about a second long to stay on his wheel. However when the group went up a hill that was steep for the first part, then levelled out, I came unglued pretty quick after the steep section.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bike Bling!

Got my new wheels today - a set of Neuvation R28 SL5's. Despite a lack of new rim tape, I managed to get them on the bike this evening by pirating some rim tape from other wheels...



The wheels look great - perfectly true and nice spoke tension, and are breathtakingly light compared to my old wheels. I took a quick spin around the block and the bike definitely felt a little quicker on its feet. With these wheels my bike should be in the 18.2 lb range, I will have to get it weighed sometime.

I can definitely see how the stickers wear on some people - they are quite loud, although in a different way than Mavic's stickers are loud. I may end up pulling some of the labels off to tone it down a bit...

I took a little bit of a gamble with these wheels - some people report having trouble with spokes breaking after a year or so. I bought the wheel protection as a precaution against this. For the price though, these wheels simply can't be beat - $350 for a sub-1500 g wheelset!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Riding

Not too much is new. Been getting in an okay number of miles - could stand to be riding a little more, but it rained almost every day this week, and when it wasn't raining it was threatening to. It's been like living in a freaking rainforest for that past week.

I kinda shot myself in the foot this past week by not getting enough sleep. I intended to ride about 50 miles yesterday but got out there and just didn't have it. So I cut it short to 26 miles and only one LT interval.

Did the Paceline A ride this morning. Ray, the ride leader, was not there so I kinda knew it was gonna get stupid fast, and it did - we went out of our way to find some hills and hammered up every one of them. Yours truly was (idiotically) setting the pace up most of them. It was a fun ride, and a great workout - about 10 miles or so of 170+ bpm riding. The group was only 12 strong this week so the sketchiness was much-reduced.

Ordered some new wheels from Neuvation that should be here Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on them, because my current wheels are stupid-heavy (especially the rear - 1+ kg!). Some people have had bad luck with Neuvation wheels, so I will see how these do. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Last Tuesday I hooked up with the Northside ride, which had been described to me as a hammerfest. I was not disappointed, even though our ride was cut short by storms and rain. I managed to stick with two of the strongest riders in Greensboro up a long climb, which was nice. I am definitely getting stronger!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summertime

So summer's here, and with that comes a full time job. I'm working at General Dynamics AIS again this summer, and so far I've been having a blast. But, working 40 hours a week definitely makes it more difficult to train!

However, unlike last summer, where I didn't ride much at all, I've figured out a system that works pretty well. Multiple long rides on the weekend, and at least 2 high intensity, shorter rides during the week. My weekly mileage is down ever so slightly, but I'm still doing 100+ miles a week, which is fine. Total mileage for the year stands at 2,285.

My training plan is fairly ad hoc. For my shorter rides, I focus on 3 to 5 minute full bore intervals designed to increase my lactic threshold. In a 20 mile ride, I can normally manage 2 of these, and a shorter high power hill climb. Based on an article I read that I can't find the link to, and my personal experience, I think this type of training is the best way to increase my power.

In essence, the article I read said the only metric you need to track is 20 minute power - everything is based off of that number. Furthermore, the best way to increase your 20MP is to spend a lot of time above your lactic threshold.

So far, this seems to be working - yesterday I did a short, 15 mile loop and averaged 21.6 mph, including warmup, with wind in the 10 to 15 mph range. Since my workouts that include intervals always end up with a slower average speed, this ride is the only recent metric I have. In addition, I made a lot of improvement in those two weeks we had off during the season, where I did the CSH ride and spent a lot of time above my LT. So there you go.

I feel very good on the bike - the position feels extremely natural, and everything just feels really good. My weight is holding steady around 147 lbs. If I wanted, I could probably stand to shed 2-3 more pounds, but where I am now is a happy medium, and I'm not racing too seriously at the moment. Energy is fairly high all day, so overall I'd say I feel really great.

Tomorrow is the Saturday Paceline ride. Hopefully it will be a little less sketchy (and faster) than last week.