Sunday, March 27, 2011

Double Day

To keep eveything balanced on the home front I did not ride yesterday since today I was going for a double ride and spend more than four hours away from my lovely, understanding, patient wife on a preciously short weekend in the middle of a grueling semester.

Salem Lake

The first ride of the day was with Eric. He's been off the bike for several weeks for health related issues and wanted to get back with some excerise. We met at Salem lake around 11AM and did just the lake circuit. It's the first time I've been around the lake in several weeks and the lake level is down something like 10' as the new dam contruction project gets underway. It was both disturbing and gratifying to see a little of what is/is not on the bottom of this lake. The lake bed has huge thick layers of what looks like petroleum residue in some of the shallow creek inlets and was quite aromatic. On the plus side, I was expecting to see tires, trash, drums etc. but there were none. People really seem to respect the lake, now if only industry could do the same.

We took a brief detour to a part of the greenway that was flooded a few days ago. The creek from the dam was very full and the parks dept. had blocked it off. Good thing too. The level was much higher than the day Mike Furr and Eric got swept downstream and Eric lost his bike. Took it very easy to allow Eric to enjoy the ride and planned a ride up Hanging Rock for next week with him and Janine driving SAG for me.

Road ride

Got kitted up for the road ride with full winter gear, after lunch with Janine, around 2pm. Long tights, base layer, jersey, arm warmers, jacket, thick socks with toe warmer chemical heat packets, long fingered gloves, riding gloves, and skull cap. Still was not enough. By the end of the ride I'm pretty sure my toes were stage 1 frost bite despite the temperature claiming to be low 50's F. Had three goals on this ride. One when not climbing, keep the HR below 82% and cadence above 85rpm. Two, when climbing a hill stay seated and spinup @ 90+ cadence every time. Three, recon a new segment to add to my rides. This would allow me to mix things up a little more regularly so I do not get into a rut of riding the exact same roads in the exact same way to get in a ride of a certain distance. Plus, by adding this new segment I would be able to put 70K ride together. Was actually successful on all three.

The coolest thing about the new segment was that while I went one direction, and there was a lot of up and down, the last part of the new segment was all down hill to the point where I thought that if I came in the other direction I would have my first local categorised climb. Did a quick check on Map My Ride and Happy Day! I've got me a Cat 5 climb. Finally something I can do with out driving some distance to do it. Sure it's just a cat 5 but it is a start.

The legs were really tired after the ride and as I sit here I'm thinking tomorrow I'm going to be very very sore. But I demonstrated to myself that I could get up everything in a high cadence so now it is just a matter of getting faster and maybe alternating sitting and out of the saddle work.

Salem Lake

Distance: 16.9 km
Speed:  22.81 kmh
Cadence:  77 rpm
AVG HR:  131 bpm
Weight:  201.8 lbs

Road Ride

Distance: 55.94 km
Speed:  25.94 kmh
Cadence:  92 rpm
AVG HR:  156 bpm
Weight:  201.8 lbs

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back in (out of) the Saddle

I'm back in the saddle after a few days of licking my wounds. Just did a short 30K, but given the wakeup call on my climbing ability it's time to refocus. I was thinking of training for a time trial for fun later this month because I thought my climbing was a whole lot better that it really was. While better than last year, I am definitely still in the beginner category so if I'm going to get over a cat 2 this summer I need to stay focussed on that goal.

After warming up, I decided any time the grade went above 3% I would get out of the saddle and climb to the top of the hill (even if it went down a little or the grade dipped below 3% I would stay up; to get comfortable with the rhythm of climbing).

While climbing a longer hill, I glanced at my Garmin a few times and noted that my "comfort" cadence was about 50rpm. That kept my breathing regular and my legs at the edge of burning. I could keep going but it tended to be mostly pushing down and moving the bike side to side. Thinking back to Sunday, where I had plenty of time to view the cadence of others from behind, I downshifted and upped the cadence to 60-65. I've always had a mental block with doing this; being worried that I would run out of energy or breath and crack. But, the turbo training this winter has pushed mental block to the side a little, so I gave it a try. I felt like I had more pep in the legs without too much of an increase in effort (still 90+ MHR). By upping the cadence to 60-70 the lactic acid buildup seemed to decrease while only slightly increasing my breathing effort.Not reallt sure how it affect my speed but I'm sure that will come.

Will try to do this more to get used to climbing with a higher cadence

Distance: 32.6 km
Speed: 26.3 kmh
Cadence: 70 rpm
AVG HR: 154 bpm
Weight: 204lbs

Monday, March 21, 2011

The stinging hand of Reality slaps Morale upside the head

Sunday. The PR ride with Team Mountain Khaki. A 128 kilometer ride past the three big climbs on the area: Hanging Rock, Sauratown and Pilot mountain. It was billed as a easy 24-26 kmh ride with SAG support. Going into this ride I had numerous ways I was going to consider this a success.

The Goal(s)

1. Unrealistic super optimistic ride. Ride/stay with the group, climb hanging rock, get dropped then use the cue sheet to get home and pocket my first metric century of the season and my longest ride ever.

2. Super optimistic.  Stay with the group, not do the climb but have them catch up as I carried on to the next climb, and get my metric and longest ride ever.

3. Optimistic. Stay with the group, get my metric and and little more to get my longest ride ever, pile into the SAG for the rest of the ride.

4. Reasonable. Stay with the group until I got my metric, bail and SAG home

5. Bad day. Get dropped but get my metric before bailing and SAGing home

6. Suck. Dropped by the group but at least I did my longest ride this year (63K will do).

Result: Well below Suck.

The Ride

It did not start well. We went up the first short, small hill right by Mock and I was already struggling. O God! What have I done? I've not ridden 3K and I'm in trouble.

But, it looked like it was a warmup issue. I got over the rest of the little hills OK and started feeling better. On the ride to hanging rock I had a few nice conversations with people I've never met, chatted with a few guys from the team and even did a pull on the front, earning my place in the group. After the pull I faded to the back than struggled a little getting back on but recovered nicely. I moved back up through the pack until I was about six back, getting ready to do another pull when we started hitting some hillier sections. One hill after another. No breaks. On the climbs I would drop back but wasn't too worried. I've been training. I just got into my rhythm and climbed at my own pace. Sure I ended at the back but I was pretty satisfied with how I was doing. But they did seem to be going pretty fast......

Then things started to unravel. I was near the back when we hit another hill and I was spit out the back pretty convincingly. Still climbed as best I could. No panic. I had seen earlier where my mass gave me a bit of an advantage on the downhill so I was able to scurry back on. Another hill, off the back. Harder to get on this time. And another, huffing, puffing, focussed but not pulling it back. Had my first real doubts and even thought about bailing.

Up ahead riders began pulling off. Hooray! A pee break! I got back on and now was determined to avoid getting dropped so I engaged in what I heroically call Hushovd climbing (but the rest of the group call SAG climbing). Got off the front on the downhill and have everyone pass me on the way back up. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. I'm pretty tired but feeling OK as we pull in for the first store stop, about 50K into the ride. I downed a few creme filled oatmeal cookies and a gel. About now the group starts to figure out the rest of the ride. We were approaching Hanging Rock. The first "real" climb. It was here that my heart started to sink and serious doubts about the day crept into my mind.

Some were not interested in the climbs so there would be a group that just carried on, the other group that was going to do all 3. My problem was that it was the strong group that wanted to do all three and I was certain I would be dropped and not have a group to fall back to if I attempted Hanging Rock. Plus, I was told the approach to and after Hanging Rock were pretty severe and I was certain I could not Hushovd my way through all of them.

So, I gave up on the idea of doing at least one climb. Time to drop to goal 2 or maybe even 3 or 4. We headed out and as we hit the first hill I hadn't had a chance to get off the front and I dropped off. Then the first of several mishaps. One of my water bottles fell out of my jersey. I had to stop half way up a hill to pick it up. Now, I'm off the back and don't even see the group any more. The SAG pulls up and the thought to bail rears it's ugly head again. Nope, I decided I would just carry on and get ahead of the climbing group and they would joinup with me further down the road. The SAG handed me some cue sheets and continued to follow me. I'm now alone on a road I've never ridden with my own personal SAG.

I came to an intersection that I think is the start of the official hanging rock climb and carry on. On my way downhill, hoping to catch sight of the first group, my Garmin goes flying off! Fuck! More time wasted. It took me and Jenna (you were awesome Sunday BTW, thanks to both you and Megan) from the SAG wagon ~ 5 minutes to find it and get back on the road.

I'm cruising away, having a good time, riding within myself, anticipating the climbing group catching up and getting back into the group. SAG pulled up and said they are going to scout ahead and see how far up the first group was. Cool, I'm fine and off they went. Several minutes later they came back and esstentially put the nail in my coffin. I had made a wrong turn. That intersection was not the climb start but the cut across to the way home. I was now in the middle of nowhere, had no chance of catching on to any group, 56K from home, still reeling from having been spit out the back because of a stupid water bottle and a dropped cyclometer and feeling crappy. It was too much, I bagged and got into the SAG, thereby dropping rapidly from goal 2,3 or 4 to goal 6 and beyond. Epic fail.

To make it a pefect epic fail though required an added bonus. As the SAG, now well behind all groups due to my wrong turn and delays, attempted to catchup to either group, we followed the cue sheet ... which had errors!!! It said to turn right when we should have turned left. That took a while to figure out, wasting more time. Another cue sheet error and another. Each time putting us further and further behind (or was it ahead?). We ended up ahead of all the groups without passing anyone. Bloody perfect end to a perfect day. Yup. Perfect Epic Fail.

Clearly I was not as prepared as I thought. Sure I had ridden 40, 50 and 60 K rides in the last three days so my legs weren't the freshest. And I was off the bike a fair bit in the week and a half since the orginally scheduled ride but even if those things were not true I don't think I would have been able to get beyond Suck. The group went a lot faster than I expected and the roads were a lot hillier than I was prepared for. All in all,  pretty crappy day.

Distance: 56.49 km
Speed: 26.78 kmh
Cadence: 82 rpm
AVG HR: 157 bpm
Weight: 201.2 lbs

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I think I'm ready for tomorrow

Just finished the longest ride so far this year. What I'm calling the Full Reedy-Creek Loop.  I wanted to just go on a longer ride without really pushing or LT, Climbing or TT work. Just ride, enjoy and check my endurance. I kept a nice steady cadence and keep the HR under control, typically ~80%. I went higher a couple of times for fun going over a hill but nothing sustained or impressive. The mental set I had was that I figured if I kept pedalling for most of this ride I should be fine on tomorrow's 120+ km ride. I'm anticipating the speed being a little slower than this ride and being in a group should result in less constant pedalling. I'm feeling confident about tomorrow.

I have to say, I was also surprised at my average speed. I was not thinking about speed at all today. It was about steadiness. So having this speed is pretty satisfying for this time of the year.

On a secondary note, I noticed on my cycling log (where I record the full data/details of these rides) that in Feb. I rode 406.01 km in 18:02h. So far this month, I've done 401.61 km in 15:27:34h. That quite a few hours less. Sweet.

Distance: 61.82 km
Speed: 27.89 kmh
Cadence: 82 rpm
AVG HR: 157 bpm
Weight: 202.4 lbs

Friday, March 18, 2011

Exactly the same, but different

Another mixed training day. Did some climbing out of the saddle intervals and a TT interval but both types were different than yesterday.

On the climbing I did not go as long but I did get into the 94+% range sooner and stayed there longer. Also did fewer on them.

During the TT interval, I focused on my positioning while keeping my effort steady and less on going fast aspect. Did a kind of ladder where I spent 2.5 min in a road bike TT position (sort of a forearms on the tops of the bars as the hands wrap around the horns of the brake hoods idea), 2.5 min recovery, 2 min TT position, 2 min recovery, 1.5 min TT position, 1.5 RI, 1 min TT, 1 min RI, then 30 sec TT. The triceps are surprisingly sore after that. Also used my forearms to push the bike around on the climbs so the upper body got a bit of a workout today as well.

Tomorrow I'll put in a straight endurance ride to get some miles in before the group ride Sunday that was delayed due to weather 2 weeks ago.

Distance: 50.04 km
Speed: 27.44 kmh
Cadence: ?? rpm lost the cadence magnet. Will replace it for next ride
AVG HR: 164 bpm
Weight: 202.2 lbs

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Slowly figuring out how to follow a training plan when my local road topography does not suit what the workout calls for as I transition from training indoors to getting back on the road. Warmed up for 10K then climbed from the river to Hampton Road out of the saddle the whole time in about 6 minutes. Starting to feel the climbing vibe. Got into a steady pedaling and breathing rhythmn and it felt quite comfortable. Took a brief 2 minute RI then into the drops for a high 80, low 90% MHR TT effort on the flats.

The climb, RI and TT effort combined together for 10K, which came in just over 19 minutes. Had a little recovery then when I hit the next hill, got out of the saddle for the whole thing again. Even on the flatter or slight down hill sections. It was about here that I started to see how I could follow my training plan by slightly modifying what the book called for to fit the roads I ride. I figure that I could get my climbing training in by getting out of the saddle whenever there was a hill. Get on a hill, get out of the saddle in the big ring, recover on the downhill then back out of the saddle. I may not have a 10 minute climb close by but I do have several 3+ minute climbs and several other 2+ minute climbs with very little RI in between.

I think I had several instances when I was "Dancing on the pedals" too. :) Felt pretty good about the 28+ kmh average speed today as well.

Distance: 42.02 km
Speed: 28.75 kmh
Cadence: 74 rpm
AVG HR: 160 bpm
Weight: 203.0 lbs

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

100K in two days

Went for another 50K Sunday. Decided to put in a more steady effort and it went well. A bit more endurance pace today. Less slowing down and speeding up. Had a good leg feel and good climbing rhythm.

Distance: 50.04 km
Speed: 26.98 kmh
Cadence: 82 rpm
AVG HR: 164 bpm
Weight: 203 lbs

Monday, March 14, 2011

In the immortal words of someone I once read

I read somewhere that the most important way to improve how well you do on a bike is ride with a purpose, make a plan and stick with that plan. The next most important way to improve it to be willing to change that plan as circumstances and your body dictate. Well, that's what I did last week. My body said stop, relax and go no where. I was, it appears, a little burned out so I missed a week of riding. Wanted to just get on the bike and enjoy the ride (which is a legit purpose btw). Monday I will adjust the training schedule, step back a week or so and start building again but this weekend I just wanted to ride. I went as hard or as easy as I felt like going. Did a few efforts but nothing sustained. Little rough at the start but seemed pretty comfortable sustaining a mid 80 cadence. Same for Sunday I think. FIrst 50K (Reedy Creek Loop) ride of the year so that's something.

Distance: 50.03 km
Speed: 27.31 kmh
Cadence: 84 rpm
AVG HR: 162 bpm
Weight: 204.4 lbs

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Repeats. I repeat, repeats.

Tried my first repeats today. The training session called for a steady grade that would take 6 minutes to complete. I found a section on Cooper road that started at the river and went up fairly steadily. Nothing too steep and only one real decrease in elevation (and that was not for very long so I was able to push a bigger gear to keep the effort constant without too much difficulty).

I wasn't sure the section would be suitable. So, as a backup, I planned to just do my best on the 30K Centanary Church Loop. Fortunately I did not quite finish the climb in 6 minutes. So as I improve I can continue to use this section until I find something even better or steeper as the season progresses.

The intervals themselves were tough but a whole lot better than Tuesday's effort. I ramped up the HR over the first minute until I got to 91-95% and had a cadence in the 80-95 rpm range.  I was able to hold that effort withour the legs filling with LA. Finished the ascent and returned to the bottom with a brief slowing of cadence to catch my breath then an easy 100-110 cadence to clear the legs. Second time up it took a little longer to get to the desired HR. It was like I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do all three and was holding back or something. But, I gritted my teeth and forced myself to a faster cadence to get into the range. It looks like on this grade, getting into a faster cadence keeps my legs alive and pushes my HR up. Good to know.

On the final interval, my legs were getting tired and it was even more difficult getting my HR up. It took almost 2 minutes before I got there. I was able to get over by a bit of luck in that the stretch of road just edged up a little bit more, such that I could hold the cadence and push harder.

These intervals were very satisfying. While my HR was in the zone my breathing was heavy but regular, unlike when I was trying to do this on the flats in a heavy gear. I did not feel like my legs were going to drop off or that I would pass out from a lack of oxygen. So, the big revelation for the day is the effort of 91% MHR is different from 91% MHR on the flats. Oh, and that apples are different from oranges.

Distance: 39.22 km
Speed: 25.94 kmh
Cadence: 84 rpm
AVG HR: 154 bpm
Weight: 200 lbs

Friday, March 4, 2011

Red Letter Day

Did an endurance ride to finish off a hard but rewarding week

What a day yesterday!

1. Had my weight drop below clydesdale class for the first time in over 3 years.

2. Got permission from the wife to ride on a training ride with Winston-Salem's newest US Pro cycling team: Team Mountain Khakis.  Me and, it appears, 16+ others will ride with the team on a long (no drop) training ride and possibly get in some categorized climbing this Sunday.

3. Did an endurance ride to finish off a hard but rewarding week

Rode Centenary Church loop for the endurance ride to finish the training week. A well deserved rest day Friday. My legs were sore but less than last night so I'm taking that as a good sign. Workout called for 45 minutes between 74 and 81% MHR. Did that pretty well, typically just popping over at the crests of hills and under at the bottoms. Did better at keeping cadence in the 90+ range as well. However, my rhythm seems a little off the last few days. The smoothness that I was developing in the first mesocycle seems rocky. I'm hoping the recovery week plus the really hard efforts I put in this week are making my quads much stronger than the hamstrings. I'll watch this and see if it starts to smooth out next week. 

I was super stoked the entire day. I bounced around like some sort of giddy school girl. Maybe it as because I saw my toes for the first time in a long time :).

Distance: 32.1 km
Speed: 24.88 kmh
Cadence: 85 rpm
AVG HR: 149 bpm
Weight: 199.6 lbs

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The end of 2011 turbonights

Last night of Wednesday night turbo sessions @ MOB. Perfect attendance and I achieved noticeable improvement on two counts. First, I was better than last year in that I was actually able to complete all elements, in some form, of each session this year. Even as the sessions got more difficult I was able to keep up. Second, specific skills I will need in July are coming around. For example, I'm now capable of standing out of the saddle for 5 minute stretches and pushing through some psychological barriers that kept me from moving to a new stage of improvement. Yeah me.

The last night had a ladder of TT's. 3, 2, 1, 2, 3 minute TT efforts. Did 53-17 on the way down and 53-19/21 on the way backup. Also did a 5 minute standing ladder with 15 second sprints every minute. My quads were screaming for mercy after the efforts Sunday and yesterday but I did it. It wasn't pretty and won't say my form was very nice but I did do it. Next,  a 5 minute sitting ladder starting @ 100 rpm down to 80 and backup with 10 second sprints every 50 seconds. Did not do this in the big ring and I think it saved my ass. 2 minute ILTs on each leg with no RI and finished off with a spinup. Rocked it on the last 15 seconds to honor the coach. Yeah Mock Orange Bikes! You gave me a great start to the season.

Distance: 23.43 km
Speed: 20.54 kmh
Cadence: 78 rpm
AVG HR: 157 bpm
Weight: 201.8 lbs

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lessons the road has taught me

First legit hill training day. Did all 3x10 intervals. 8 min @ 91-94% MHR and then all out for 2 minutes @ 95+%. Didn't quite do it perfectly but at least I gave it my all (I'll post the link after the Garmin site is back from maintainence).

Couple of observations for next time:

The first interval had actual hills so it was tough in the sense that getting into that range it taxing but not the effort itself.

The second interval started on the flats so I tried to ramp my HR up over the course of ~1 minute by pushing a bigger gear and lowering the cadence. That just lead to LA build up and sapped my ability to push my HR higher. I did get into the range but my breathing was really laboured. It was quite uncomfortable. Next time I to these workouts I'll try easier gearing with higher cadences to push the HR and make it more of an aerobic effort rather than anerobic. However, there were moments, once I got up to a faster cadence, when I got into a zone where the breathing was hard but regular and seemed sustainable. I'll try to find that zone again next time.

On the last interval I had the will to get over 95% but not the ability (probably from trying to turn over too large of a gear earlier). As much as I tried I could not get my HR above 94% on the all out 2 minute segment. The fact that I wanted to get higher also gave me confidence that I can do these efforts. I just need to get the feel for it. Doing these intervals on the road are really different than doing them on the trainer (Duh..) and I'll have to make adjustments as I move toward more outdoor riding with the coming of spring.

Not a perfect day but I did it and I see places where I can improve as well as how I might get there. Cautiously optimistic that I will get better as this type of effort.

Distance: 43.34 km
Speed:  26.97 kmh
Cadence: 79 rpm
AVG HR: 163 bpm
Weight: 203.0 lbs