Thursday, March 24, 2011

Not All Training Mistakes Are On The Bike

Paying the price for a couple of training errors. Error #1... inadequate sleep. In total I've gotten enough, but it's been broken into shorter sessions rather than a solid night-long slumber. Error #2... not enough water. I was thirsty all weekend. Travels, dry weather, and lots of time outdoors. Not a lot of water, though. Error #3... not enough food.

The result... tuesday's ride showed an elevated heart rate (dehydration) and today's ride started out with sore legs, and nearly ended in a bonk. Thank goodness for jelly beans. No way I should have been sore tonight. The ride was surprisingly hard. With some determination I made it through. Finished off tonight with an ice bath and about two gallons of water. Gulp, gulp, gulp.

Biofreeze, leg wedge, and bed. It's all aboot recovery...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tickets to the Road-ee-o

As one could possibly tell from yesterday's rant... there's a supply issue with the new mountain bike. Not going to get it in time for the spring season. Considered a few options. Riding the old bike, that I'm frustrated to tears with. I could tootle through at a leisurely pace for spring races on it. If I'm not going to put in my best effort... why race?

Spent an entire day being lost. Without a spring season... the next logical goal would be the fall season? Too far away. Too big of a gap. It was a trusted friend that came up with the best solution. Road race. Roadies race through the summer. I can do some spring racing. And it can fit into my schedule pretty good. Never intended to be a roadie. But I also have no intention of being a couch rider either.

Training wise... time to step back and assess. I've been building to mountain bike fitness. Most closely resembles crit racing demands. Short but intense efforts with relative easy parts between. But I'm also considering more challenging goals. Ft.Davis stage race maybe? Don't know if I can get climbing legs by then? A lot to consider. Must keep an open mind...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why is Buying a Bicycle Harder Than Buying a Car?

It just shouldn't be this difficult. Buying a bike ranks up there with having a rectal exam. It is actually worse than buying a car.

Bike manufacturers and shops do themselves no favors. Some of my pet peeves...

Shops have no stock. If you want a high end bike, you almost have to guess what you want. No one keeps any stock. "I can order that for you" say the local shops. But what if you it doesn't fit? Or you simply don't like it? Not to mention the wait, along with undeterminable deliveries from manufacturers. Might be five days, might be two weeks, might be three months. How about we'll get around to it whenever we feel like it.

Depsite having limited inventory... some local shops will only sell from stock. I know no one wants to sell you a bike when they have one already paid for on the floor. But that floor model isn't what I want. Gawd help you if you are an unusual size. One local shop acted as if they "might let me" order a bike. I "might" take my business elsewhere. Thanks.

Dealers trying the switcheroo. I went to one area dealer looking for a carbon-framed, high-end component bike. Knew exactly what I wanted. Just needed a dealer to order it. The sales manager said they didn't have that bike in stock (see above). Then suggested an aluminum, alivio and acera equiped, hard-tail that weighs over 35-lbs instead. The infamous "It's the bike I ride" line really put it over the top. Nothing wrong with the suggested bike. It was a bargain and good value. But it wasn't anything near what I was looking for. Not even in the same parish.

Manufacturers that put crappy components on high-end frames, and don't sell framesets. This has become a trend since my last bike purchase. Bad economy = keep the price-point down. I get it. But really... who wants $4,500 bike with SRAM X.3 shifters, and no-label brakes on it? Nothing wrong with those components. They work. But they are $450 price point, not $4,500. One can't help but feel they're not getting their $'s worth. The option is buy the bike and take it apart, rebuild it with new components, and throw away or fleabay the take-offs. This option is far more expensive and a huge headache. Ugg.

In all, the process is devoid of the expected joys and anticipation of making a major purchase. It is no wonder so many people are turned off to cycling. I can't say I blame them. For a newcomer to cycling... it must be a harrowing experience. It takes almost as much personal investment, dedication, and determination to buy a bike as ride a bike. As my friend Ted (not his real name), who reps a bike manufacturer, says: "I'm just glad I don't have to buy my bikes anymore."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Timing Is Everything

Good saddle time this past week. Long threshold intervals on Friday were very tough, but knocked out. As I neared home I realize what I thought was CO2 carts rattling in my seatbag, was actually my saddle coming loose from the seat post. Luckily it didn't fall off. Potential for very painful accident. Luckily it all stayed together and got me home. Nothing broken on the saddle nor post. Checked carefully for cracks or defect. Apparently someone *cough* didn't apply the proper torque to the bolts.

Timing when you reach peak fitness is part part science, part planning, part luck, and part voodoo. At some point you have to transition from aerobic-level training to "go fast" training. The tough decision is timing the introduction of intensity. Do it too soon, and you can't maintain the fitness and burn out. Too late and you aren't ready for the "thrill" of racing. Throw on the cumulative fatigue of base training and... it's tough to sort out the transition. Every season I swear I'm going to get it right. Sickness, work interruptions, or just burnout... I'm not sure what I'd do if I ever did actually get it right! ;-)

Right now I'm overdue for a rest period. Yet... I think there are some gains left to wring out of the base-training. Think I'm going to push my boundaries a bit and finish off this bloc with a bang. Next weeks weather and travel schedule look to be ideal for minimal time on the tightened saddle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Nearing the end of my base bloc. The training fatigue is accumulating rapidly. For power geeks... last week was +12pts CTL. This week similar. More than I'd normally plan or recommend. But it's all threshold-zone and below. So the body tolerates it pretty well. Couldn't do these types of gains if the intensity were higher.

The training is working. Every ride I'm spending more time at or slightly above threshold. And it's easier and easier to keep it pinned there. Exactly what I wanted. I can't say I'm stronger, or my FTP is drastically higher. But I can use what I've got far more effectively.

Next bloc builds the strength and develops the super-threshold fitness. The return of tasting-my-lunch intensity will be welcome. After a bit of rest, of course...