Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lights Partif Deux

Time to mount and test the new lights. I put the Piko on the helmet. Simple affair to attach with velcro through the vent holes. The Piko battery is light enough to helmet mount. Lupine does supply an extended cord with the set, so you can pocket the battery as well. Worth mentioning is that the connectors are excellent. Look to be WeatherPak clones, and are all interchangeable.

It's a clean, self-contained mounting. I weaved the cord into a vent hole and there's nothing loose to snag on branches.

The Betty mounts on the bar. It uses a simple o-ring. Lupine supplies two sizes for regular and over-sized bars. I needed the oversize ring. This required changing out the stock size. Simply loosen the screw on the mount and swap the rings out. My only complaint so far, is that this screw is Torx head (T-15, I think). Though it would be simple to replace this with a more common hex-head.

Just hook the o-ring and you're done. Easy.

The battery case is velcro. Simply hook the flap over the top tube and the lower strap keeps it from sliding around. Very easy.

My impressions... excellent! It took a few minutes to get used to having a light on the helmet. As I'd move my head, I kept thinking someone was behind me. HA! I got used to that pretty quick though. Having the Piko on the helmet provides nice spot and fill for turns and twists. The Betty provides excellent fill light, and projects far ahead. No blind spots with this combo.

There's beaucoup light. On the road, low settings were more than adequate. I was lighting up reflective signs as far ahead as I could reliabily read. I turned up the brightness on the unlit areas. Wow! No problem seeing. It's almost as much light as a car. Brilliant. I'd have zero problem navigating the darkest singletrack at night. Totally confidence inspiring. No pictures because the ones on MTBR [link] do a better job than I could.

Worth the expense? Yes! For night racing I wouldn't want any less light. Don't think I'd need any more, though. For street riding... the light combo is overkill. The Betty on dim is plenty and the Piko on medium both provide over-adequate light for visibility, and for illuminating darkened areas. Riding at night is a lot less nerve-racking. My only regret is waiting so long to take the plunge.

Now my last excuse for not doing an endurance race is gone. HA! All that remains is some battery capacity testing, and I'm ready. Well... ready, gearwise!


Last night's attempt at threshold intervals went up in smoke. I dive into the first interval. Usually... the first interval feels too easy. Last week I did this workout and it was easy. This is not. My legs are achy after the third minute. I stave off the temptation to quit and make it to the end (18:min). Barely. I do the prescribed 5:min rest period. I ramp up into the second interval and it - just - is - not - happening. I give it another 5:min and attempt again. Same result. I haul it back to the house.

The data download tells a tale. My heartrate was 15 bpm higher than last week during the first interval. On my two later attempts it shot up immediately, rather than making a nice smooth transition like usual. Almost hit my maxHR. No way it should be this high.

What's going on? I'm not sure. It's either detraining, fatigue, or oncoming sickness. Trifecta? Detraining is certainly possible. Over the last couple of weeks my HR has progressively been dropping for an equivalent power level. Good indicator of fitness. Did I give back some fitness with my slacker effort last week? I'm certainly fatigued. My sleep pattern has been disruptive for the last week. Definately contributing. I always see a rise in HR 7-10 days before a sickness. So that's a possibility, too.

Today, my legs are achy. They feel like they did a major effort last night. But I didn't. I'm going to try sleep and re-attempt this workout on Thursday. If that goes similiarly... I'll consider regressing my training by a couple of weeks. Remedial training, HAHA! Interpreting what the body is doing is not a simple task. May be the most challenging part of training. Always learning...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cure to My Light Envy

The sad reality. Being a working stiff means night riding. Early sunsets. Long work days. Night riding is unavoidable. I've been relying on this PlantBike number. It functions flawlessly. It turns on. It turns off. Batteries last quite long.

It is strictly a "be seen" light. The more night riding I do, the more I realize it does not garner much notice by motorists, because it's significantly dimmer than the vehicle headlights a crossing motorist is scanning for. It is easily overlooked where the street scene consists of illuminated signage, and other vehicle traffic.

The lamp fails at illuminating a path into visibility. I've always know this, but didn't realize what 'real' trail lights looked like until last week. A rider pulled behind me on a dark section of bike path armed with an ExposureLights Six-Pack. HOLY MOLY! I could see where I was going. Well mostly. I stuggled because I was riding in my own shadow from his lamp... 30 yards behind me. I felt way safer. And blown away. Need!

The search. There is a huge array of options for bike lights. Everything from DIY, to Chinese imitation lights, to expensive high tech. My criteria were light capacity, form factor, and price. I spent three nights digging around the wasteland known as the internet. The best reviews I found are located [here] and [here]

A few candidates consistantly came up. First candidate was the MagicShine. This appears to be a Chinese knock-off of the Lupine Tesla 5. Several comrades have bought this lamp, and been pleased with the capacity. One calling the naming high power setting "bunny retina burning" level. They are dirt cheap. Around $100. But... Quickly found out why. The batteries and chargers are junk. Numerous reports of batteries being defective caused the primary importer halt sales. Then UL issued a bulletin that the chargers are falsely using the UL symbol. I found few complaints about the actual lamp head. But after looking at options of homebrewing a custom battery and charger... the economy factor is no longer applicable. It seems the major cost of a quality lightset is in the battery and charger. Plus, the only remianing dealer doesn't appear reliable. Shipping times of two weeks to two months have been reported. Although cheap, I'd rather not mess about with the potential headaches.

I looked at the ExposureLights SixPack. It's is a great unit. Obviously bright. It's advantage is wireless form factor, and reasonable price. It's constructed like a flashlight. It's disadvantage is it's wireless form factor. It's too heavy to helmet mount. And quite frankly on singletrack having that mass shaking on a bar mount taking a beating... I'm leery the beam wouldn't be steady, nor the mount to be durable. Perfect solution for a street bike, but I need both.

In the end I bit the bullet and got the Lupine Betty 7 and Piko combo. They weren't cheap lightsets. But I could not find anyone with anything negative to say about them (other than expense). No complaints about batteries, chargers, or overall quality. The form factor is perfect. Bar or helmet mountable. Great chargers, including a car charger. And Lupine have a great history of standing behind product. And they're made in Germany. C'mon the Germans always make great stuff.

I ordered direct from Gretna Bikes. They shipped the next day without delay for the holiday season. I love getting packages!

First the Piko. Comes with lamp, helmet mount, helmet mountable battery, extended cord, and charger. It's 8w LED (16x more powerful than my "be seen" light). Plenty road usage by itself.

The light head is compact and lightweight. Ideal for helmet mounting.

The Betty 7 comes packaged in a nice zippered case. With car charger, wall charger, frame mount battery, helmet mount, extened cord, and lamp. The lamp bar-mounts the integrated base. No mount is required for handlebars.

The Betty is also compact and lightweight. There would be no problem helmet mounting this lamp.

One nice thing about Lupine's chargers. They are interchangeable. Any LiION charger can be used with any LiION battery. Further, the charger included with the Betty also charges NiMH and NiCAD battery packs (including trickle modes). The charge rate is selectable. It works with big and small batteries. Super nice.

This improves the long-term economics on these light sets. In the future I can upgrade batteries and lampheads separately without purchasing more chargers or packaged light sets. It's all plug-and-play. And I can travel carrying only one charger for all my lights: present and future. NICE!

Tomorrow... mount up and test.

Holiday Week Bust Up

Last week was a training bust. Started well. But I only managed a quarter of one other ride for the week. Ugg. I've been struggling to put consistant weeks together all year. The rhythm of training isn't there. I need to find it quick. Spring is closer than the cold weather would have us believe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simple Meal

Looong time since I've posted about food. Tonight's meal seems relevant to training. It is a quick meal. And a healthy meal. All cooked in one pan. First... start with some boneless skinless chicken:

Pan them with a dash of oil. Use breasts or thighs or whatever. When they are done, set them aside, brown some onions and garlic. After they are tender, add mushrooms.

When darkened add some liquid. I like to use one can of chicken broff and one can of beef broff. Season as you like. Add one can of rice. Juice of a lemon adds a kick. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rice is almost done. Add the chicken to reheat...

Bon appetite.

Life on the Gulf Coast

Record high today. Almost 80°F as I plunge out into this ride. Four days before Christmas. I'm out in a short-sleeved jersey and shorts. Great for riding. Not so great for that Christmas spirit. I enjoy it, even if that makes me a scrooge!

The legs have bounced back nicely. Continued threshold work. The uneventful ride allows my mind to wander and reflect on how winter training is going so far. I'm pleased. My theme has been: Don't make it harder than it is. It is easy to get down this time of year. Weather disruptions and holiday distractions squeeze your available time. Riding in the cold is hard. Riding in the dark is harder. But with good gear it isn't that much harder unless I bathe myself in a sea of dread.

Attitude goes a long way. Hope it holds out through January and February. That's when the weather truly gets ugly.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Daylight Savings Time

Where did all that daylight we supposedly save go? I'd like it back now, please.

Yet another ride in the dark on Friday. A strong set of long threshold intervals was the plan. The ride went well. The legs felt pretty good. I got off-plan this week. As a result I ended up with an extra threshold workout. And Friday's threshold session - that would normally be followed up with an easier day - will be followed up with a long endurance ride. After my ride, my legs felt quite fresh. This lead me to thinking... maybe I'm not doing enough. I shouldn't be this peppy.

Saturday. Daylight!! First daylight ride in a while. How is this for clear skies?

Although it's a bit cold the sunshine helps the attitude tremendously. I depart on my ride down Parmer Road in N.Austin. At the first little rise I located the fatigue I was missing last night. Ouch. Hoping this is just cold legs, hoping it will go away after I warm up a bit. My plan today is ride the flats and downhills at endurance pace, ride the hills just above threshold. I keep to this plan outbound. But as I turn... I realize my legs are absolutely cooked. Hmm... maybe I have done enough for the week!

Glad to make this one back. My legs are fatigued, and I feel slow. But this is how I'm supposed to feel. I'm absolutely baked, but not in a bonky way. Legs have just accumulated a weeks worth of fatigue. It's time for a rest. Sunday and Monday are off the bike. Tuesday it's back to the dark and repeat again...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shorts Sleeves

Past few days have been awesome. Shorts, and short sleeves have been all that's needed on the bike. Wednesday's threshold work went very, very well. Thursday's skill drills resulted in a fall or two. But it was a lot of fun, that amounted to playing around trying hop, over everything I could find around the neighborhood.

Skipped my core stregthening sessions on Wed and Thurs. My elbow was too sore from Tuesday's bar-yanking manual practice. Nothing serious. Feels like an over-use, rather than any damage. Feels almost exactly like the time I helped frame a garage for a family-member and ended up with a sore elbow from all the hammering. I think my hammering days are over, but my bike riding should be fine.

So far, I'm coping with the winter training pretty well. The worst part is riding in the dark. I haven't ridden in the daylight in almost two weeks. Need better lights, too. Otherwise... I'm sticking with this better than I feared.

The cold is back today. Tomorrow's endurance ride won't be pretty. But I'll be glad to finally be riding in the daylight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Manual Labor

Warmer temps today. The weather was actually nice, but I didn't get into the saddle until after dark. Skill practice tonight. I worked on making better manuals. Pretty basic skill, but my abilities have seriously degraded since breaking the elbow. I brushed up on the technique and off I go.

Like bunny hops... manuals are all about dynamically shifting body mass. There shouldn't be much pulling on the bars when done right. I pulled on the bars a bunch tonight. Enough to make the elbow achy. But it made it easy to tell when I did it right and when I didn't. My loft is good. My hold isn't.

This was a good complement (and contrast) to yesterday's threhsold work. It's a light easy ride, yet a lot more productive than say... a recovery ride. More fitness build work tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Character Builder

I vividly recall several rides over the years that I classify as "character buiders". I looked back at a few entries just now. What is a character building ride? A character builing ride is one that test's you in some memorable way. They aren't necessarily hard, but they expand your resolve in some way. They require reach into your desire bank. And you hope you have the balance to cover the check you're about to write!

Tonight was one of those rides. The program wasn't particulary hard. But it was already dark when I was dressing for the bike. It was cold, too. Dark, cold, windy. And I was tired. Long day of working late. But I forced my way out there.

About a quarter way through I wanted to go home and have a nice warm bowl of chili. Then my mind drifted to a question. "What kind of person do I want to be?"

I decided to be the person that finishes the workout. And when it was done, as I enjoyed that earned bowl of chili... I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Training

Winter training is off to a nice start. It's fun. A nice change from the summer heat. I'm getting to use the gear I bought last fall in prep for last winter... but never got to use. The next 12 weeks are pretty routine. My weeks will go something like this:

Monday: REST! Glorious rest!
Tuesday: Core strength in the AM, threshold build intervals in the PM.
Wednesday: Core strength in the AM, MTB skills or short trail ride at lunch.
Thursday: Morning core workout, with long intervals.
Friday: Short lunchtime ride.
Saturday: 3- progressing to 6-hour ride with some FTP work and hills included. Trail or road as weather permits. Lots of stretching.
Sunday: Easy ride and a core workout.

it's not as regimented as that would seem. There's actually quite a bit of variation, but that's the outline...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Testing and a Look Ahead

I took a break the last two weeks. Being well rested and well fueled from thanksgiving goodness... a good opportuninty for testing arrrives. Results are ambiguous. I'm seeing great gains to my under two-minute power. But my threshold power isn't progressing as well as I'd have like given the attention I've given it. Some of that may be due to my testing. I went too hard at the beginning of the time trial interval. I may repeat the interval today, striving for a more steady power level, or re-test in a few weeks.

I planned out the first six weeks of the 2011 season. It's the most aggressive plan I've ever written. I've included tons of skill practice time. Several times last year I felt limited by bike handling skills. No reason for that. I also planned in a lot of flexibility. I've come to realize that it's impossible to lock down a plan during this time of year. Weather dictates what's possible. And there's no way to predict what the weather will be like three weeks from now. So, for most long workouts I've planned a dirt option, a road option, and an indoor option. Otherwise I tend to say "if I can't ride as planned, I'll just ride the couch".

2011 is an important season for me. I expected a better 2010 season than it turned out to be. Can't help but feel like there some unfinished business to take care of.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Watts are not Watts

A nice benefit of using a power meter is that it accruately protrays your efforts. You can't, for example, use speed as a good effort indicator. Single-digit speeds may be a heroic effort if the road is steep enough or the headwind strong enough. Power measures the effort much better.


Watts are not always the perfect measure either. Last night weather forced me onto the rollers. This was my first attempt at riding intervals on them. Let me say this... ### watts on rollers > ### watts on a trainer > ### watts on the road. Even on the smoothest, flattest road you still have variations in speed that apparently allow for significant recovery. You have less on the trainer. The resistance is constant. And there's absolutely no interruption. But you can still 'coast'. On rollers... you don't even get the minimal 'coasting' effect you get on a trainer. You spin without interruption - because stopping means falling off! And effort changes are hugely apparent because of the gyroscopic effect. As your wheels decelerate you get shoved to the side.

It makes a huge difference. The legs obtain an amazing amount of recovery with just a few lightened pedal strokes. These aren't as freely available on the rollers. That's a good thing. Makes for a better workout. But it may mean that I need to adjust my workout durations. I plan for the road. But may need to come up with some multiplier for the trainer. Clearly... they are not equivalent.

Last night was my first attempt at intervals on rollers. Longest ride on rollers to date as well. I'm happy to report that after almost two hours I didn't get bored to tears nor was my butt beat to a pulp. Those are my two biggest complaints after being on a stationary trainer for more than about 40min. I've heard of people doing epic 4hour indoor rides. On a trainer this would lead me to jump off the nearest bridge. I can easily see me doing this on rollers though. I can't say enough about what a revolution this is for me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A set of 5x 10min intervals tonight. I'm riding much stronger. Just in time for the 'off season'. Ha! I will take it as I'm determined to ride through this winter season. Perversely, I'm looking forward to the challenge.

My progress stems from the last six months of training. Been a tough few months. I started from a low point. And progress hasn't occurred linearly. Instead my body has stored up most of the gains and is only now converting the training into fitness! It always comes in waves.

This is why it is so important to have faith. One must have faith that training will eventually pay off. Every athlete must have some degree of it. You must have confidence that training will work. Even when it appears it isn't. Not easy!

Admittedly, mine was weak at times over this year. Returning to my preinjury fitness has been far more difficult than anticipated. "I know I can do better than this" dominated much of my thoughts. Faith in my training delivered me through. Without it, I'd still be on the couch...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Perfection

How could one NOT be outside on a perfect fall day. Temp... 72. Humidity... 32%. Sky... completely cloudless. The mission... a long ride endurance to tempo pace with my always steady partner Jane.

Today's route takes us from the core of the 4th largest city in the US, through a very rural park, out to the bedroom community of Katy. It's a unique contrast of urban and rural. A good route for avoiding the trappings of traffic, and keeping a steady pace with the exception of a few parts that are peppered with red-lights.

A good ride. Felt very strong today before fading in the last hour or so. Continuous improvement is what it's all about!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roller Thoughts

I was not prepared for how much I like rollers compared to a stationary trainer. It is actually riding a bike as compared to sitting on a bike. Thus, your entire body is engaged -just like it is on the road. On a trainer your upper body, arms, core, have no function. I always feel like I should be cooking dinner or something. A few thoughts.

Learning to ride rollers is not hard. Once you get the hang of it, it's very natural feeling. Took less than a total of an hour to get IT.

I've learned about my spin quality! Rollers provide instant feedback on your spin. One interesting thing I've found is knee stability. I've never had great knee alignment. I've been fit twice, and each time when pedaling in the fit studio, my knees looked great. But never looked as good on the bike under actual conditions. Saddle height, Q-spacers, wedges, nothing seemed to be able to take all of the knee-knock out. I learned why on rollers.

I've been subconsciously using my knees to balance with. I've been throwing a knee to the side at top of each pedal stroke to compensate balance. It wasn't a positioning problem at all. It was a dynamic balance issue. Why was this not spotted? All of my fittings were done on a stationary trainer.

Related to the above, riding rollers has made me sore in some odd places. My knees weren't supported into alignment by inner thigh muscles at the top of my pedal stroke. They were being pulled outboard by outer hip muscles. Now... my knees are properly supported but the muscles aren't as developed as they should be.

Rollers are a great training tool with benefits beyond getting one out of the weather.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter's Coming

I'm determined to keep fitness over the winter this year. Yet, diametrically, I loathe riding the trainer. A possible solution? Rollers.

Unpacked the quality of Kreitler rollers is immediately apparent. The frames are coated with high-quality coatings. The alloy drums are smoothly finished and the bearings are fantastic. Assembly is completely simple...

How good are these rollers? If you spin a drum it will spin for a looong time. Not cheap, but after receiveing them, they are worth it.

Riding. Is not easy, but the learning curve is pretty quick. I'm riding them in a hallway. After about 20min I'm able to balance without holding onto anything. Just like mountain biking, the faster you go, the easier it is. I quickly learned just how much my upper body and knees are used to maintain balance. Rollers enforce quality spin form.

Yes, I rode off the side once. It's a non-event. You don't shoot down the hall. It's just an instant stop and plop. 'Steering' on rollers happens veeery quickly. It will take out any tendency to overcorrect.

I like them. This may be just what I need to get through this winter season.

A Top 10 Finish

A ninth-place finish for the Piney Hills Classic. Very apprehensive about this race after Saturday's pre-ride. In short, this course is everything I'm not good at. A lot of down-and-ups. On these you have to really work the descent. No brakes. Gathering as much speed as possible. At the bottom hit a narrow 3-ft. wide bridge at nearly 30mph, so you have enough momentum to make it up the steep backside. Do it right, and it's an exilerating blast. Do it wrong and it makes for a lot of hike-a-biking. Being a flat-lander these are not strong parts of my skillset.

On my way to the start area I noticed a lot of Cat 2 folks exiting the course at the road crossing. DNF'ing. Not encouraging, as it had rained a bit. With no expectations I arrived at the start area, wondering where everyone was. The turnout was really small, compared to most XC races in Texas. I kept waiting for a horde of riders to turn up to stage. I went to the chute, and Cap got us lined up and off we went.

The first third of the race went better than expected. I could see peeks of the lead group as four of us fell back. Then four became two, and finally on one of the jeep roads I found myself alone. Strangely this felt good, as this was to go from racing to training in a hurry.

I missed a chunk of the course on my pre-ride. It was closed for the short-track and time-trials. I didn't get to ride Tomac hill. This is something special. As I rolled up... I understood why people talk about it. I was too gassed to give much pause and down I went. Fun, fun, fun. Did not know a MTB could go that fast. Went nearly as fast on the fenceline hill, and nearly biffed the yump at the bottom. Landing front-wheel-first at 30ish is not a good feeling.

This was definately the hardest race I've ever done. It's a hard course, but a do-able course, that rewards good descending skills and punishes mistakes. Maybe that's the cause of the small entrant field? At the same time... the course is one of the funnest I've ever ridden. Seems like the sort place that would make a good rider into a great rider. It certainly exposed my weaknesses and gave me a lot of concepts to focus on for the spring season.

I want to come back to ride without the pressure of a race before the spring season begins. The park is beautiful and the facilities are great. Very, very nice venue.

Oh, and about that top-ten finish... ummm... yeah. There were only nine entrants in my category. ;-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fun Week

An easy one this week. Nothing too heavy before Saturday's race. Tonight some isolated leg pedaling and core work. Oh... pics from last weekend...

Monday, October 18, 2010

24 Hour Rule

Learned this from football coaches. After a game (race) you're allowed the first 24hours to be happy, or disappointed with the result. At the end you analyze what happened. Then put the emo away and go on to the next event. Good rule.

Analysis. The sketch is pretty good. My normalized power is +2w over my FTP. It's usually significantly below my FTP, meaning I've been leaving a lot on the trail. Having an NP this close to FTP means I paced this race well. Not going significantly over my ability keeps me from blowing up, not going significantly under means I'm not toodling.

This was the tail of two races. My HR trace tells a lot. For the first half of the race my HR stays high. But distinctly, it falls as my legs tire. I *think* this indicates my aerobic fitness is good, but my legs fatigued. IOW my cardio-vascular could sustain effort, but my muscular endurance couldn't. The power peaks continued to get smaller throughout the race. This makes sense given that my training refocused on aerobic fitness the last 6weeks.

My HR follows the elevation trace almost exactly for the second portion of the race. I used the downhills to recover, instead of being able to attack them and milk them for speed. I needed to do this, but it would better if I had something left in the legs for the DHs.

More indication of muscular endurance deficiency. Let's look at some hill climbs. The dashed line is my FTP. Each time up the hill, my power level starts out good, but quickly tapers off. This effect is consistent across the race. Improving my ability to crank up the power for say 3min bursts would really help my performance. Losing some weight would help a bunch, too.

None of this is a surprise. It is confirmation. The majority of my training focused on aerobic fitness. Indeed has improved. I've done a bit of power development, but I haven't stick with it. I need to. Also need to improve the efficacy of my training in that regime. In due time. Still need to develop the aerobic fitness some more. As I get close to the spring season, I'll revisit this data when building my plan.

Gawsh I feel like a nerd now!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Feel Good Again!

It doesn't feel like race day until you get your number!

Today was my best race to date in terms of execution. I arrived at the venue well rested and calm. Registration as always with the TMBA crew... simple and quick. What made today different was my pre-race routine was good. I've struggled with this, and never really gotten it -right. Today I nailed it.

It started last night. After some experimentation I've learned how to make rice using my Jetboil. I can't stand re-heated rice. Nothing like good fresh rice.

About 2hrs before the race I made my rice, mixed in some canned pineapple chunks into a vat of carbo-nutrional-gastro-goodness. Jane says rice is the perfect pre-race food. And I think she's right.

I warmed up adequately this time. I've either under or over shot the warmup. Today... I recorded it using the PowerTap. Now I've got a good template to follow. Bon.

I timed arrival at the staging area as I like. I hate waiting around to stage. I'm not usually nervous. But others' nerves are contageous. I showed up just in time to stage toward the back. *pow* We're off!

The start is easy. I'm tempted to move up, but resist. It's especially tempting as the dust is super bad. I get a surprise in one of turns. This section of trail is usually hardpacked gravel. It was completely sandy and loose. I wasn't expecting that, and almost take a digger under two minutes into the race! So much for home trail advantage.

I stay comfy thorugh the first part until the first road crossing by the Nature Center. It was on this first climb after the NC that I crampped up and blew sky-high last year. I begin to get apprehensive. I keep the pace sane. Maybe a bit conservative. I treadle the effort and... I get thorugh this section fine. I pass several a few folks in my cat. So far so good.

One guy has stuck right on my wheel so far, but has not asked to pass. The first long bridge has a sandy approach. Miss and, and you can't steer onto the bridge. Since this is my home course... I nail it. The guy on my wheel... doesn't. I don't see it. I hear it. The thud of bike and body are unmistakable!

Before I know it... I'm on the false flat to the spillway. Still feeling great. I'm way deeper into this race than last year. Knowing the fenceline climb is coming up, I milk the little bit of downslope here. Up the fenceline climb and I'm starting to hurt. Bad. I stall out, dab and like 4 people pass me. Ooops. I get to the top and I'm cramping a bit. Realizing what's going on, I decide it's survival mode from here, and use the downhills to rest. It's slow, but not as slow as having to stop for puking.

As I near the end, I'm completely disoriented where I'm at on the course. I'm thinking it's near the end, and it's time to turn up the wick. Hmm... I did that last year and I was further than I thought... I hold off. Until I round a corner and there's the finish. Dang. I dump the chain and get in the big boy gear for a sprint to the finish. Done.

Not sure where I finished. Back third? But... atleast they weren't picking up banners and course markings like they were last year ;). By my clock I shaved 20min off last year's time.

Still a long way to go, but progress is the focus...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Didn't Feel Tired...

... but I was. This off week has been remarkably refreshing. Had no preception how tired I was. But the difference in how I feel is huge. Obviously, I needed this. I'm wondering if there's a seasonal component to this. Last year at this point I was completely burnt out. I modified my training to avoid the heat this year. That helped. But I still felt the fatigue more than expected. The difference this year is that rested this week. Let's see if it helps...

My only riding this week has been commuting to work, and a short spin tonight to open up the legs for tomorrow's race. Not typical preparation. But this race is more about getting my feet wet than results. Curious how I'm going to feel tomorrow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Rest" Week

It's "rest" week. The reason for the air quotes? Although I break from training... these weeks usually involve doing all of the errands, chores, and tasks that have been deferred because of training. Life's tasks pile up as things get put off due to lack of time. "Rest" weeks allow catching up on non-training things. There's a lot to do. Not exactly lazing around on the couch during this week.

These "rest" weeks are vital to me. I've learned (the hard way of course!) that if I don't set aside some time away from the saddle I end up burnt out. Who knew "resting" would be so difficult? With desires of better performance staring back at you... to simply stop... and do nothing for a while seems inappropriate. Rationally, I know long-term it's necessary. A short term sacrifice for a long-term goal. In that sense it's not unlike any other training effort. Where you endeavor with the faith that you will improve in the future. During "rest" weeks you don't work with the faith it will improve your training in the future so you will improve. It's all about delayed gratification, really.

It's not just resting this week. Race on Sunday. But I'm not doing anything special to prep for it, and not expecting a good result. This is however a threapeutic event. This was my last event before breaking my elbow last year, and my first oaf-icial event since. Kinda symbolic that I'm back. Hometown course, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Weeks Long Ride

Bit over four hours in Zone 3. New to me trail today. Walnut Creek in North Austin. There is some great riding up here. Easy stuff. Challanging stuff. Creek crossings. Open gravely trail that you can hammer on. And tight twisty trail through the woods. I'll let the pictures tell the story for today...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Ride is Brought To You By...

Sour Patch Kids. That was my nutrition on tonight's ride. The ride? Simple. 4X 15min at 100-110%FTP. These felt much easier than I expected. Maybe it's the candy...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Fest!

I'm not talking about an outdoor fete celebrating a change in season. This was a festival of falling off the bike!

Saturday was a trip to Muleshoe Bend for some fun under exquisitely mild fall weather. Feeling a bit fatigued. But as I start to ride... I come to understand that I have absolutely no kick today. That's okay, it's been a hard week. Spark isn't expected. Given lack of kapow... I endeavor to ride with skill.

I come up short there too! I struggle with loose gravel. I fall - several times. I'm not sure if the gravel is looser because it's dry, or if I just haven't ridden this type of surface in too long. I feel like I'm riding on ice. I do know this... tire pressure and suspension settings that work fine on Huntsville sand and roots don't work on hill country rocks.

It's still a fun day, though! Glad I had my first aid bag...

... not that I was injured so bad, but it's nice to be able to clean up before driving to meet the loved one. As I write this on Sunday, no bruises or soreness. Excited about the upcoming week...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Day Too Many

Spin tonight... this was originally planned for Monday. I attempted it. And was just too fatigued. Tuesday I got back on plan, which was a core day. Back in the saddle tonight... The plan 4x14min. Simple. The first interval is cake. Super easy. This is going to be an easy night. Recover repeat. A bit harder. And my legs are really tight. Almost achy. Third interval is tough. Soo much for super easy night. But I burn through anyway.

I think if I had things to do over I'd have ridden last night. It would have been a great balance. This was one day too many. The body sometimes likes continuity. This was one of those times.

Not a big deal. And the remainder of the week looks to be great. Fun to come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Return to HSP

An early start. A beautiful morning as the sun rises...

I'm not alone on the trail today. The deer are out, too.

Today's pace is fast-tempo, with one lap full-gas. A good ride. A good day.