Friday, May 28, 2010

Successes and Failures

Been an interesting week of success, breakage, and fear...

My self-built wheel survived it's first two rides. The wheel is stiff and spoke tension stayed spot on. But... the Powertap hub stopped transmitting. Dead. Off to Saris for O/H. I'm powerless for the next few weeks.

It's a tough time for me career wise. Working in the offshore oil field has it's ups and downs. But with the spill in the Gulf, everyone is unsure of the future. I've never seen people more worried and down. Even post-Katrina.

This whole event has really opened my eyes to how clueless our society is, and how poor the news media is. The misinformation is like an avalanche overwhelming a very rapid and solid response by the USCG, MMS, and BP. There are many stories of heroism, innovation, and ingenuity happening daily for this event going completely unreported.

The news media and politicos are more invested in creating sensationalism, fostering a diaster mentality, and working to create villians, rather than trying to inform. It's painful to see co-workers maligned. It's even more painful to see people mislead.

I hear over and over really stupid stuff at work, on the radio, facebook, via email, etc. Educated, otherwise intelligent adults are spreading stupid rumors of stuff like a bunch of 5th graders. And suddenly everyone's a drilling and subsea expert, despite never having set foot on a drill floor or in an ROV shack. "They've heard all about it on CNN."

From an inside view it's frightening. I realize that the entire future of offshore production has turned into political spectacle. The direction of our future will be determined by the loudest special-interest groups. Politicians and protestors who appear totally clueless about the industry will be in charge; rather than engineers and scientists that are familiar with the risks, methods used to mitigate them, and proper well construction techinques.

So... this extended weekend is about shedding it all and getting into the training groove. No TV, no radio, no FB. Me, a special friend, and my bikes. And hopefully a cheery return to work on Tuesday...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Building A Wheel

These parts will become a wheel...

The first group of spokes...

The remainder of the spokes...

Oh yeah. Take the batteries out if you're building with a PT hub...
Off to the truing stand. You can see where it starts. Totally floppy...

Then after a couple of rounds of spoke tensioning...

A few more rounds it starts to mellow out. Just a bit of wobble and hop...

It didn't take very long to get it to this point...

Building a wheel isn't very hard. It's kind of relaxing in a way. Takes a bit of patience. But as long as you tighten spokes in small increments, it's not as frustrating as you might believe.

I tried to build a wheel from scratch once when I was a kid. (After taking a perfectly good wheel apart). That didn't turn out too well. But I had no idea what I was doing, nor did I have even a proper spoke wrench. That's about all you need. You can do this without even a truing stand.

I thought about adding some recommendations. But I've only got one. Read this page It's everything you need to know about building a wheel. All of the advise and recommendations I concur with.

Some rim tape, tire and tube and I'm ready to go!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Transformative Machinery

Can inanimate objects transform us? Sure they can! After a long stress filled day... a bike transformed my day from bad to better.

My new bars and stem are also transformative. With the longer reach my back is flatter. My reach is better. My tight neck cured. I'm not constantly pushing back on the bars. Topping it off, my weight on the front wheel is moved in forward of the contact patch. Making the bike properly caster. Holding a line through a turn is now a matter of thought rather than worrisome and wiggly.

The program is four 10-min intervals at or slightly above threshold with 4-min between. Riding without power tonight. I use the droolometer. Threshold means slight drool from the corners of the mouth. I monitor my HR closely, too... I'm starting to see the first signs that it's time to add intensity to my training. I'm noticing that my lungs are becoming my limiter moreso than my legs. Soon it will be time for huff-n-puff intervals.

Safe to Enter?

Spent a few more days than planned away from home waiting for the fumigators to finish with the house. Finally returning home to the following posted on my door.

Unfortunately my office parking garage was NOT safe to enter. I had the bike on it's rack. It is about an inch too tall for the cross beam at the entrance. Yes, I forgot about it and drove in... *BANG* Luckily (?) the rack broke. It's much cheaper than a new frame. Or seat post even.

I did a *thorough* check of the seatpost and frame for cracks. No damage evident. The scary thing about carbon... it doesn't always show stress until it fails. And I had no idea how much force it takes to break a bike rack. I didn't have a good feeling about this.

Then I spun the back wheel. It had a good wobble to it. I have a good sense of what it takes to bend a wheel. I've seen bigger whops from hitting potholes. So, I rest easy that the frame and seat post didn't take a hit harder than what they're designed to take. A relief.

I tried to true the wheel. I got it pretty close to straight. But... the spoke tension was pretty huge one one side, and way loose on the other. Time to rebuild this wheel. Tonight I disassembled it, and am awaiting delivery of a new rim, spokes and nipples....

And if that wasn't enough... I replaced brifters...

Added a longer stem and new bars...

These are to relieve a problem with the elbow and lower back that have been niggling since my accident. Need a bit more reach to straighten the back, and allow the arms to flex. I really like the new cockpit. The new Ultegra internal cable routing is a lot neater.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Long ride plan tonight. I roll out and head for my proving grounds. A small detour by my house, which is under a gigantic tent. Interesting site. Looks like a circus has taken over. HA! Tonight's first hour is high tempo ride with a 10sec sprint every third minute. This goes really well. My sprints feel strong. My heart rate's where it should be. All is well.

The next 90min are spent at mid tempo power. Steady state this time. It'll be almost 10pm before this night is done. It all goes well... but my butt begins to hurt near the end. A pretty minor complaint. My elbow and back are a bit sore, too. I have a solution on the way for those issues... Tomorrow's an easy day. Active recovery ride, and some rejuvination stretching. Turning into a good training week.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Embracing the Chaos

I am displaced. My house is being gassed for termites. This has me in a hotel Tuesday through Thursday nights. This brings about a set of chaos. Packing. Being in an unfamiliar envionment. No cooking facilities. As I gathered all of the numerous items required for training I realized... the life of a cyclist is not easy. But it is worthy. As long as training is worthy, I'll take the added efforts and chaos it brings to my life. Happily.

Riding from my new temporary residence is not easy. It's in the Galleria area. That means one thing -- TRAFFIC. I manage to find a route to River Oaks with minimal time spent on trafficy streets. Still... there is a gauntlet that must be navigated. But I do it anyway. Last night's ride is a good one, Tempo Crossovers. Simply ride for 90min alternating between tempo (75%FTP) and threshold (100%FTP) every three minutes. It's a great workout that targets and teaches good pacing.

Long ride on tap for tonight...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Befelled by Another Flat

... this time it's me! Today's effort was supposed to be another set of threshold intervals. This time 20min long at 90%FTP. After the last two days of threshold work the legs just laughed at me. I barely made 10min into the first intervals before the legs just shut down.

Today was to be the third consecutive day of threshold work. This was a training mistake. I'm pretty well versed in planning my weekly training load. But... I'm not so good distributing my load within the week. My training load over the week was well within reach. However, I targeted too much load back-to-back. Now I'm forced to rest during my prime weekend training time. Expensive goof.

I need to be more careful in my day-to-day planning. I don't know enough about planning rest on subsequent days following heavy efforts. Is there a 'rule of thumb' for recovery following a known Tss? A research topic for the weekend...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Flats Solved

I'm nervous leaving the house today. After three flats on the previous ride... I spent some time finding the cause. My suspect: bad rim tape. My solution: new Velox rim tape!

Nerves (and spare tubes) are on hand for roll out. Short warm up then a nice workout. Set up at 80% FTP with a 20sec 200%FTP sprint interval every third minute. A fun program. On finishing that effort I rack onto the trainer to do a set of pyramid intervals. I do five sets (5x) of three reps. For the first set, reps are each 3min long @ 110%FTP. For the second set repsare 2min long @125%FTP. For the third set... reps are 1min long at 180%FTP. The fourth set is a a repeat of the second. And the last set is a repeat of the first. One minute recover between reps and three minutes between sets.

A challenging workout. Flat free!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Ride from Hell

A simple plan for Tuesday's ride. Three (3x) 20min intervals right at or slightly above FTP. Turns into an epic exercise. It starts before I even leave home. My rear tire is flat. I patched this tube last Friday. I think this is a slow leak as it gradually went flat over the weekend. I toss it in the garbage. I hate finding pinholes. New tube, and out the door I go.

I get through the first interval feeling quite strong. This provides good correlation to my recent threshold test. My training really is working! As I round a bend the bike feels unusually twitchy. Bouncy almost. I look back and... I've got a rapidly deflating tire. I quickly change it and off I go. I'll use the flat change as my rest interval. As I start out my tire catches in a gap along the sidewalk where I was reparing my tire. I fall. Not hard. No injury. Just a scraped up calf.

"Rub some dirt on it Princess!" I tell myself. I wind up for the second interval. Less than five mintues in... another flat! Sad times...

Hmm.. Maybe there's something in the tire. This time I caaareeefully inspect the tire for anything stuck. I don't find anything. I'm out of tubes. But I do have insta patches. I carefully locate the leak, apply the patch .

The bad luck streak isn't over. I snap a tire lever putting the tire on.

Searching for the non-existant puncture source, and patching a tube takes a while. I'm on a short time schedule. My plan is to ramp back up, complete one more 20min interval and call it good.

About four, maybe five mintues in... I start to have that "not so fresh feeling". Am I bonking? I push for another minute or so. Yup. I'm bonking. Light headed. Unclear thoughts. Nausea. Whole thing. I'm a bit confused. My nutrition was good today. I brought a carbo-loaded sports drink on board, consumed about half of it to this point. No reason to be bonking but I can't deny what I'm feeling. I quickly douse the half bottle of sports drink and head for the house. Softly. Impishly. Pedaling as lightly as I can. Making matters worse.. my tire is losing air! It's a race between my rapidly bonking legs and a flatening tire. Why all the flats? I suspect there's a problem with my rim tape.

The score for today: One (out of three) 20min interval successfully completed. Three flats. One broken tire lever. One fall. One bonk. The result... one day off of the couch and riding in the sun. Even when it's a bad on the bike... It's a good day of life!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sick or Not?

Spent the last couple of days in a funk. Felt unmotivated and lethartic. Even passed on a trip to NOLa for JazzFest. This is all quite unsual for me. Fell asleep quite early last night. And slept almost 14 hours! Definately not normal. But I felt much better today. Was I just run down? Maybe. I felt fine today. So... let's ride as planned!

Today's selection is a road ride. Tempo pace, in the new (higher) zone. I head out bound on a mostly out-and-back route with a slight tail wind. Constantly reminding myself, don't burn it all. Riding back will be harder. I took a new route through the Spring Branch neighborhood, that avoids much of the Memorial Villages. I like this route better. In the Villages you have to ride the sidewalks. City ordinance. Ichk.

I make it out to Barker Reservoir, and take the bike path around to Barker Cypress, spin around and head back. The wind's channeled along the levee, and gives a free boost. Fun!

On my return route I decide to take the trail through Terry Hershey Park.

I'm quite apprehensive about this. I'm not superstitious, but it seems every time I take this route something bad happens. On this trail I have */broken a chian */suffered a ride with three flats */and broken my elbow. How could anyone break their elbow on this?

Fooling with the cell phone! At almost the exact point where I fell... my phone rings. I didn't even consider answering it, even though I suspected it was someone I wanted to talk to! Bad Karma.

True to form, there is a slightly negative experience. As I near the Beltway I discover the trail closed. And ripped up. Unrideable. It's a long walk. So I end up sneaking through a nearby neighborhood. Getting quite disoriented on cul-de-sac streets. "Just follow the Garmin" I remind myself, convinced I'm going the wrong way. I make it back to known territory and polish off the ride with a nice upwind effort back home.

Today's route...

A quick ice bath, snack, and bed. What will tomorrow bring?