Monday, February 28, 2011

A Postulate

On an out-and-back ride, the magnitude of anomalously easy the ride outbound portion seems, will become twice the magnitude of anamalously hard the inbound portion seems.
A windy Sunday endurance ride along Parmer Ln in Austin put me in the weeds for a bit. It was dreary and misting. Solid overcast. Low ceiling. I roll out noticing a significant wind. Remind myself... take it easy! All is fine. Then the U-turn...

I nearly sag out of this ride. The sun comes out. The wind batters and blows. Patience required. I hate going this slow, but one can't utilize speed for gauging effort on a day like this. The Jeffy Pants wind indicator works though.

It's a flagpole bender today. I stop for a moment to stretch after a hill. I stick it out. I make it back. Mostly due to a well timed Soulive song that shuffles into the iPod. Can't stop moving with tunes like that!

This ride felt good despite the difficulty. Looking over the power data. I'm satisfied. A bit more intensity than I set out for. But I kept the effort up better than I thought I did. I think it's a case of effort distortion syndrome. A day of rest tomorrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maybe It's the Gumbo

Planned on some threshold intervals at the Froot Loop. Wasn't to be. Closed for the rodeo clowns. As I rode back, I passed by the departing 6:30 WE ride. Why not? I jumped on.

The ride was a bit more pedestrian than I was looking for. But some very nice folks! And fun to ride in a group. I really like pack riding. I ended up with less intensity, but more duration. Matched my TSS goals almost exactly. And it was fun.

I've eaten gumbo most of this week. My legs have felt awesome. Causality? Maybe. Regardless... the legs felt stupendous on tonight's ride.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Playing Catch Up

This season's plan was built with a sharply progressive increase in workload. January's setback put me behind. Missing several weeks meant starting over at Week 1. Remember what those teachers told you? Cramming doesn't work. True for training, too. After spending most of January sick, the temptation to cram is strong. I haven't crammed. But I've added just a bit more workload over the last few weeks. Not a lot. Not if I was too tired. Just a bit more on the threshold intervals. Just a little extension of the endurance rides. Gentle additions.

The gentile additions have added up. Now I'm in reach of catching up to my oringinal pre-sickness plan. This week was supposed to be an easy week leading into a "C" race, then recovery week. I'm not interrupting my progress. I have more important races later in the season. And I don't need the rest. This week and next the progressive addition of workload continues. Bit-by-bit loading of training stress into the legs. Tonight... some intense 6x 10'min intervals... that'll keep the heart pounding!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Capping the Week

Today I'm capping off a solid week of training. A lengthy endurance ride to set the fitness gains of the week. Welcome to my office.

My goal is 2-1/2 to 3 hours, endurance pace, but some intensity in self-
selected spots adding up to an hour of accumulated time at or above threshold. The route is an in-town loop, because I don't feel like spending any time in the car today. Out the door, jump on bike, ride. Simple.

I enjoy today's route. It's the Houston equivalent of the Five Boroughs route. It takes you to many of Houston's most iconic places. The Heights, Downtown, Museum District, Hermann Park, Medical Center, River Oaks, Memorial Park, Timbergrove Manor, and White Oak.

I hit all my targets for today. Perfect weather. Good riding. And for bonus I saw a train...

Even got a touch of sunburn on my arms. Stark contrast to the recent ice storm.

Two more good weeks of training... I'll be where I want to be.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Solid Day

With temperatures in the 70°s... today's ride was a joy. Two 30'minute threshold intervals to test the legs with. I roll out a bit uneasy. My legs are sore. Previous day's strength training was a tad too aggressive. There really is no alternative. The weather is too beautiful. I'm riding. It's just a question of whether I can do my planned intervals, or will I need to back off into L2 territory.

I ramp into the first interval. After about 3'minutes the soreness is actually abating. Went well. The last 5'minutes were very tough. The second interval is harder. Especially the first 10'minutes and the last 10'minutes. At 6'minutes into the interval, I think of bailing at halfway. But I forget to look at the Garmin until there are only 8'minutes left. Why quit now? I don't. Legs cooked. But looser than when I started. Satisfying.

Heartrate was perfect today, exactly as expected. My fitness is nearing my pre-sickness level. I'm catching up on the season. I'm plowing through the planned rest/race week next week. I don't want to break stride on gaining fitness. No signs of overtraining *smile*.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes it IS the bike.

A poor carpenter blames his tools. I've always been hesitant to. But I can also recognize the limitations of my tools. Saturday I reached that point.

I've been reading Twist of a Wrist II I'll have a lot more to say about the book in a few weeks... but for now, without going into too much detail... the book delves into the mental and physical interface of going fast on a two-wheeled machine. The basic question it provokes is what does it take to go faster. Keith Code's style always provokes thought! A good portion is controlling survival reactions. Survival Reactions are things like grabbing brakes when you feel fast. Stiffening up on the bars in tight turns. Not turning the bike purposefully (and running wide) because you fear traction loss. And many more. At it's most basic level it requires trust in the machine.

As I rode around Warda on Saturday.... one of my mission was to be aware of my own survival reactions. I know they exist, but in what form?

I noticed some very important characteristics. First, my survival reactions came late; rather than on the approach of a trail feature. As I approach a turn, or a drop I want to be aggressive on -- I had no tension. No stiffness. No sense of limit. It isn't fear of "making it" causing my survival reactions to kick in and want to go slower. This is atypical. As fear-based reactions typically happen in anticipation of the event.

It's after I'm deep into the trail feature when my survival reactions kick in. But why late? Simple. They are kicked off by my bike acting unpredictably. It's the loss of trust in my machine. After noting this I could actually predict the points where my survival reactions would kick in; and link them to specific things the bike was doing.

It isn't news that my bike is a liability. The Stumpjumper FSR is definately not a race bike. It's trail bike that doesn't like to be pushed. This frame's never tracked well for me. I been unable to get the weight distribution I'd like. The list is pretty long.

However... linking those limiters to specific riding patterns is new to me. Understanding how bike weaknesses raise survival reactions on my part is important in choosing the next bike. As well as giving insight on becoming a better rider.

The next bike decision has been made. More on that later.

Friday, February 11, 2011

More Albino Training

Rollers were my best cycling purchase last year. They are getting a lot of use with more freezing weather. The indoor and bundled up training fades the tan lines. Fellow blogger Matt calls it 'albino training'. Being fair skinned already, I'm on my way to the land of the pale.

This weekend I'm choosing the next bike. It is time to move away from the Stumpjumper. It has and continues to be a great and superbly reliable bike. But I find myself needing something racier and something more comfortable. May take two bikes to accomplish this. The Stumpy is a perfect example if a bike trying to do a bit of everything. Time to try something different.

Weatherman says 70°F temps next week. Hope so. This albino training is gettin' old.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Road Blocks

Continuing cold put me on the aluminium road again. Threshold intervals are the plan. This turns into the best ride I've had in weeks. My heartrate, perceived exertion, power levels were all in agreement. My HR was more than 10 beats per minute lower than the same effort last week. And instead of consistantly climbing through the effort, it leveled off and stabilized as I'd expect to see.

Despite this ride going very well physically, at one point I just wanted to give up. No good reason. Physically, I felt fine. There was just the overwhelming desire to not be on the bike. 100% mental. I worked through it, and glad I did. But, it was mentally taxing during a ride that should have been completely enjoyable. I've ran into this road block before. I wonder if it's common? I'd guess that it is, but never heard it discussed.

Despite the attitudinal hiccup, the week is off to a great start.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Riding the Aluminium Road

Planned to race the Texas Super Six on Saturday. My plan was simply to use the time as training. Six hours is what the training plan calls for, so why not do it at a race? But my recent training hasn't been up to my planned level. Ready for six hours? Probably not. Strike One.

We've also had record cold and an ice storm on Friday. Would the weather clear? How cold would Saturday be? Yes... I'm a cold wimp. Strike Two.

I hadn't prepared my nutrition, my bike, nothing really and it was getting late. Cram it? No. Strike Three. I'm out.

Instead of a long trail riding adventure I settled for a long session on the rollers. The aluminium road that leads no where. Not so bad. Because the complete lack of coasting, constant effort, the rollers are much more efficient. I meet my TSS and caloric goals in about half of the time it would take on the trail.

Not as much fun, but it fit into my weekend needs much better. I didn't have to deal with snow and ice up Palisades. I got an equivalent amount of 'work' into the legs.

The next two weeks are critical. It's gettin' late in the "off-season" to get ready for the "on-season". Focus, focus, focus is the plan.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Slow Motion Bounce Back

Hard to believe it, but the effects of my flu are still lingering. Though, I'm starting to blame detraining more than actual lingering illness. Things are improving. Tonight's ride plan was very similar to Jan 25's. Same wattage target, but longer work intervals. Again tonight, it was harder than expected. But two things stick out from the data. First, I was able to reach my expected wattage. Barely, but I made it. I was unable to do that last week. While I'm still getting some cardiac drift... it's much better.
I've had the flu before, but this one seems to have incredible staying power. Maybe the power tap just makes it easier to quantify? Either way, I'm back to a full-time training schedule. And playing a bit of 'catch up' at this point.