Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tropical Training

Tropical weather on the Gulf Coast. The humidity is near 100%. Rain daily for over a week. Today wind has stuck. 30+mph gusts on todays' ride. In true tropic form each gust was from a different direction. Swirly. When behind it felt like a push. From the front like someone squeezed my brake in a sprint. From the side... excitment!

I finish the threshold crossover ride deep into the darkness on windswept and rain soaked streets.

Been a tough week working around the wx. Requiring a flexible schedule. But I'm getting most of it in. Tomorrow and Friday are going to be a challange. The planned rides are too long to do on the trainer. Chance of rain =80% both days... looks like I'll be getting wet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Review

Trying something new is always fun. Leaving the zone of known quantities leads to discovery of good and bad. As I alluded in my last post... I'm trying out new tires. I've mounted up Continental Race King 2.2's front and back. I've been using Kenda SmallBlock 8's for almost two years as my all purpose tire. Only going to Kenda Nevagals in rainy or muddy conditions. Why Conti Race Kings?

I desired a more open tread pattern. But I didn't want to go to large lugs.

... they fit this criteria perfectly. As always... smaller lugs = better rollers!I like the small lugs over rocks because they tend not to get bounced around as much. My theory is small lugs drift more predicatably at the cost of the maximum amount of grip. I always tend to more predictable wash over maximum grip. Just my perference, but looking to challange habits.

Here's a side-by-side with the a worn SmallBlock 8 2.1.

... the Conti 2.2 size is about the same as the SB8 2.1. Maybe a bit smaller. They run small. The 2.0 size must be really small, so select it carefully. Larger lugs, but not chunkier. They are about the same "height" as the SB8 lugs. My thought when mounting is they sould be fast rollers.

Mounting, was totally easy. Easiest tubeless tire I've ever mounted. They fit onto my NoTubes Olympic rims with no problems, and the bead poped onto the rim right off the bat with the first blast of air from the compressor. Piece of cake.

I took the tires for a flogging at Pace Bend...

The verdict is *drumroll*... I have a new favorite tire! Keep in mind that I'm comparing NEW Race Kings against OLD SmallBlock 8s.... but my back-to-back comparison found these tire to have more ultimate grip, predictable drifting, and really damped over loose rocks. They hold their lines well over breaks. They didn't balloon and bounce like a basketball in the rock gardens as I was used to. Neat phenomenon. They really shine in breaking power over the SB8s. Enough to force me to readjust my braking points, and nearly pitch-pole me a few times on descents. The RaceKings don't have as much predictability as the SB8s, but it's still quite good.

They are super-fast rollers.

I'd have no problem going back to SB8s when it's time to retire these tires, but for now I'm totally satisfied with what I've got. Pretty much a toss up. Curious to see how these hold up over the long-term....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pace Bend Again

Is it possible to tire of riding single track as nice as this? Nope. Back for a second engagement at Pace Bend... The pics say it better than I can...

That last shot is of a hammerhead turn I didn't qutie clean. Kept running out of speed on the whooptie-whoos setting it up. Next time. Also got lost. Running out of water, it was time to place my trust in the GPS and follow the virtual breadcrumbs. There was supposed to be a bail route. Never found it, and had to go the looong way out... oops.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rest Weeks Are For Maintenance

The concept of a rest week is maintenance of the body. Just like a motor needs an oil change, the body must be cared for properly. Bikes need maintenance too. That was today's mission...

Like me, the bike has accumulated effects of the preceeding weeks of training. For the bike... it's mostly in the form of dirt! Gently spray it down...

Apply the suds...

Use the high-tech super-duper chain cleaning tool...

There a ton of contraptions for chian cleaning. I've even tried two of them. Most end up creating a bigger mess trying to add and dump the degreaser. And the chian never comes out very clean it seems. I've since wised up. And use a jar filled with citrus degreaser. SHAKE! The result.... clean chain! No fuss no mess.

I made a couple of changes to the bike over the last few weeks. Switched to the Ergon GX2 Leithbrau grips. I like the shape of the hand portion. Not sure I like the bar end part. I don't use it much. But... I'm not used to having it, so maybe I'll acclimate to it? I can certainly see the usefulness on long slogs. Nice to have another hand position, and they weight next to nothing (they're carbon). I also worried about them snagging in tight spots, but they are small enough to cause no worries. I've ordered another set sans bar end to keep on hand...

Also added a longer stem. Did the same to my road bike a few weeks ago. I think my desire for more reach is related to the change to my right elbow. Whatever reason, it's helped. Less front end wander on climbs and negligible penalty on descents. I'm really comfortable on the bike right now.

One final thing this before I wrap up this eve... mount up new tires.

More to come on these. Rested and prepared for a weekend of Texas hill country riding!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Austin Wrapup and Respite

Three successive weeks of quality training. Time for some R&R and a cycle wrap-up ride.

I traveled to Austin for the weekend. Friday night I saw Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears at the KUT fundraiser with Jane. Having never seen them before, this was Jane's idea. And a good idea it was! Thoroughly enjoyed the show. Nice blues/soulful rock vibe but still having a raw cutting edge you can only get with a local talent playing a great venue. Even the white folks got up and shook themselves.

Saturday saw my hide at Pace Bend Park for a tempo-paced ride to capstone the weeks' training. After the recent TMBRA race I heard lots of bemoaning about the difficult of riding here. I start out a bit initimidated. But I ride a couple of rock garden descents and feel quite comfortable. Turns out those descents were the hardest thing out here. Total confidence boost. Great place to ride!

I don't know what the race route was. I can envision a really super connect-teh-dot path through the network of trails that would be absolute torture. But.. I can also envision one that would be really trivial. I'm sure race day was some of both. And not as difficult to ride as some made it out to be.

I'm riding strong right now. Possibly as strong or stronger than ever. The motor is running good. I do OK with the heat. I tackle the techy stuff adeptly. I don't baby the elbow -at all. In fact, I actually try to wheelie hop and beat the arm up as much as I can today. It's the only way it's going to get stronger. These trails require a lot more upper body effort than I'm used to. By the end... its getting tender, and clear I need to cut the 3-1/2 hour goal a bit short.

Sunday began a recovery cycle. To kick it off... a Gordough's donut.

This was a Funky Monkey. Brazed bananas with brown sugar and cream cheese icing on top of a large, warm, freshly made donut. Masterpiece! I wish I could make donuts like this at home. I'd never leave. Some heavy-duty napping and a return home completed the weekend.

The upcoming week includes a recovery cycle. I'm starting to get that snippy streak that accompanies a heavy training regimine. And the last few days of last week had my mind wondering about all the other things I could be doing besides training. Truthfully, there are a lot of domestic tasks and errands that I've been neglecting. It's time to step away for a few days. I ran myself into the ground in last summer's heat. Easy to do in the Gulf Coast heat. (Today's HI=105°F).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Falling Flat

The run is over... today I awoke feeling flat, and the theme continued throughout the day. No specific pains or anything. Just general tiredness. As it came time for my evening ride... I debated hard. "I'm going". "I'm not going". After about 20min of this... the decision. "I'm not going". And a wash of relief came upon me. There's a fine line between being consistant in training and being a slave to the plan.

Monday, June 14, 2010

No Man's Land

Training is in no man's land. I'm a tweener. One can ride long and slow. Or short and hard. But how to do a little of both?

Entering a unique part of the season. Until now training sessions are pretty non-intensive. My focus has been sub-threshold to threshold work to develop the aerobic system and endurance. Thus sessions are longer. Duration has been king. Now I'm starting to add intensity. Because the body hasn't adapted to this yet, I'm slowly adding in the intensity. This shortens my workouts significantly.

Right now, I am limited by my above-threshold endurance, I can't get enough volume into one session a day. Two straight hours of VO2 intervals isn't an option. But two one-hour long VO2 interval sessions are. Thus, I can get in two hours of intervals without running myself completely aground. I also have the option of doing intensity for one workout, and tempo for the other.

Splitting my efforts into two daily sessions helps tremendously. I ride a short VO2, neuromuscular, or skill-based session either before work, or during my lunch period. Leaving my evening free to do longer rides and build volume. Today was a perfect example. I did 15s VO2 intervals at lunch, followed by a 3-hour endurance-level ride in the evening.

Eventually the intensity will be rise to replace volume in the training program. That's a few weeks away...

Good Service from Saris

I forgot to post a thank you to Saris for a quick return on my PowerTap. I received my wheel back last Thursday. Turn around time -including shipping- was only six days after they received it. Assuming the same delivery time as I had getting it up there, the turn around time was one day.

That's a great turnaround, Beat my expectations. I was expecting it to take a week, with another week for shipping. I'm pleased with the timing. Great service. The PowerTap hub is completely rebuilt. That's the only level of service Saris offers for an out-of-warranty hub. It's not cheap at $300. But other than the outer shell, it's all new parts. Nothing is reused. Good thing as I needed a new freehub anyway. At first I was disappointed that the hub crapped out on me. Until une copine pointed out that it died after the rim bending garage episode. I'm thinking it was damaged in the hit, rather than a random failure.

Glad to have it back in action. I've been on the mountain bike, which feels awefully oafish on the street.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Training Works

Sunday brings me to Double Lake. I was here six weeks ago, for my first real dirt ride since being injured. Two goals for the day. First a 3hour tempo ride. Second a check to see how I'm progressing.

The legs feel marvelous today. They feel "right" today. Everything just works. Like it's supposed to. I'm riding strong. The bike's going where I want it. And the pace is OK for this early in the season.

The comparision to where I was six weeks ago... is WOW! All of the elements missing last time are in place today. Tangible proof that training works! I'm pleased with the bike handling progress and the fitness progress -so far. The season's off to a good start.

I start running out of daylight before my legs are empty! Don't want to stop! I'm feeling bullet proof today! But I must. Still plenty in the tank for next week. Looking forward to another strong week, more weekend trail riding, and some careful eating.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Favorite Workout

I have a new favorite ride plan. Here's the plan...

Set power meter for interval average display. Ride for 2min at 100%FTP then "coast" until average watts drop to 95%FTP. Then SPRINT! the watts back up until FTP returns to average. Coast down. repeat for 10min. The rest 5min. And repeat the 10min bout two more times.

Two great aspects to this plan. First, the pedal like hell, then coast closely mimics mountain biking.

Second, I can see this really helping me with pacing. Unlike a time trial, mountain biking requires many efforts above and beyond FTP. You can't simply aim to ride at your FTP, which would be the theoretical ideal pace. Yet I always seem to end up way below my FTP on MTB rides even during races.

I learned a bit today about how to go hard on the hard parts, and easy on the easy parts. Does the learning ever stop with this sport?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Threshold for Monday

Monday... usually a rest day. But this weekend brings travel and no training. I felt recovered enough from Saturday's ride to do some threshold work today. Simple plan two (2x) 20min intervals right at FTP. Recover 10min between. All's well. The legs feel great. Actually the second interval feels easier than the first. Good indicator of fitness gained.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saturday Endurance

Saturday's are for distance! Today's route leads to Lake Houston. This time I've got the route correct. I'm joined today by my Jane. As you can see, at this point she's probably thinking "dang I wish he'd speed up!" :) Just for the record... I did get chicked on every overpass. I'm not ashamed. Jane is a strong rider.

The ride goes well. Weather's great, though a bit warm. Later, I was wishing we'd rolled out earlier. Traffic's pretty heavy on parts of this route...

About 45miles in I got overheated. And almost side swiped by a Houston Police car! Ugg. Time for an unplanned break. I felt overheated. Not bonky, not dehydrated. Just not right. Is it the heat?

Nearing home clouds rolled in, a breeze kicked up, and the temp dropped. I felt way better. Indeed it was the heat. Back home, time to cool off and eat some dinner.

My lack of heat tolerance is a bit concerning. I've got a long road of training ahead this summer. How can I improve my heat tolerance? Better figure it out!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Recovery is theme for today. Only riding is an active recovery ride. My legs are shred and tomorrow is some a long endurance ride. Some stretching and upper body core work were also in the mix. Along the way I spy this!

A '79 Honda Mini-Trail 70. Remember these from my childhood. Chatted with the owner for a while. Makes me want one to knack around on...

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Owweee! Hard ride tonight. I'm knackered. Cross over intervals. Three minutes at 120%FTP, three minutes at 80%FTP, alternating for an hour. A good workout to see how I'm recovering from over threshold efforts. Not as good as I'd like. I had to break into two 30min sessions, because each interval left the HR a bit higher. I haven't trained for superthreshold efforts yet, so the lack of recovery isn't concerning. Not yet. For now... the legs are hammered. Tomorrow's an easy day. Commute or a recovery ride option will depend on the weather... tba.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Haaawww! Hard one today. Just short of 3hrs of fast tempo riding with 10sec sprints every 3rd minute on top. As I ride the sky looks to drop rain at any second. But it stays off. Ice bath and compression tights to kick off the recovery. Another hot one tomorrow.

The day was filled with many training related tasks. Errands to buy maltodextrin. Washing bike kits while home for lunch. Filling in the training log. Calling about my Powertap hub repair. Staging clothes at my office, so I don't have to carry them when I commute-by-bike thursday and friday. Sometimes it isn't just the saddle time that takes up the day. Effeciency helps. I should try it one day! *wink*

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quick Report

Despite a rest day on Monday... Tuesday's ride is a tough one, despite the non-aggressive plan. Four 10min threshold intervals with 4min reco between. I got through it. It's a big week this week. Hold on!

Weekend Roundup

Fueled with Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a breakfast taco, Saturday finds me driving down TX 71 west of Austin...

I turn off of TX 71 onto Paleface Ranch Road...

Then a quick righthander at the George Jones Donkey Farm...

It's not until checking out that does the realization that "George Jones" is the name of one of the stud miniture donkeys. Not the owner of the ranch! Miniature donkeys are an odd phenomena. I suppose everyone needs a little ass in their life. *wink* Following the road I arrive at....

Todays mission... tempo or better paced trail ride, three to four hours. First lap is more recon than anything. I've never ridden here before. The trail comprises some nice single track...

Some fun rocky climbs...

Some rock gardens that challange...

And Some I don't master this day...

And a gravel pit of doom where you can sink almost ankle deep in rocks...

I'm not happy with the first lap. I'm timid and hesitant. Not riding with any flow. I hike-a-bike a lot of the trail. I'm fighting the trail with the bike, which never works. The trail is winning. I return to my truck, collect my thoughts. Consider becoming a rhodie for a few moments! HAHA! I reassure myself that it was just a recon lap. Unfamiliar trail. Next presentation will be easier. I conclude it's worth another go. This lap is far, far better. Over 20minutes faster, and I didn't press the effort. I ride all but a few spots. And at least one was because I blew the setup, not that I felt incapable. I go out for a third lap... but take a fire road bail out. I'm getting sloppy on the bike because of the fatigue in my legs. Met my goal, and then some. Now it's time to cool off.

Fun place to ride with a lot of variation. Most of the trail is under tree cover. Important for a warm day like this. This was the perfect place to ride for a flatlander. It's got all the features I'm weakest at. Slick limestone. Loose rocky climbs and descents. Rock ledges and stair steps. Hills. But it's tame enough that I can clean most of it. My focus next time: clean everything, then add speed as I gain skill and confidence.

Sunday finds me with fried legs. I have soreness in places I'm not used to being sore in after a ride. Hills are hard! So today's ride is a recovery ride. Slow, steady, and easy pace. I ramble around Austin while working out the creeks in the legs. It helps. But the fatigue remains. Monday is a day of power resting.

I need more riding like this. There's just no way to simulate this type of terrain, or improve my trail skills without actually riding it. There is no substitute. Not to mention it's way more fun! Access to good trails is a huge advantage, and the best way for me to improve my skill set. Measurable improvments just from this weekend. I need to make some hard sacrifices to ride more in the Austin/Hill Country. I guess I'll just have to travel there more. Darn. HAHA!