Sunday, July 31, 2011

Colo Shakedown

Plan: With an oncoming trip to Colorado, and a wheelset that came close to essploding... my mission today is to shake them down by beating the snot out of them. As I roll from the house I look for every curb, bump, road joint, root I can hit.

Result: Luckily Mem Park's famous routs provide ample opportunity as long as you don't mind a few face slappers!


Unfortunately I smack one a little too hard and perfrom an off-saddle excursion. A litte blood. Nothing like a gentile fall to get the adrenaline flowing. I feel better. Falling is part of biking. The more you do it, the better you get at it. And every time you fall, and don't get hurt just boosts confidence.

Riding with the S-man today...


I hate to be repetive, but I really, really like the HighBall..

Wheels survive the test fine. The rider does too. Cleaning the trail rash hurts more than the fall today. After a few hours... it looks like I have a pecan implanted just below my kneecap. Should make some pretty colors.


Hydrocolloid bandage, gauze, tape and netting. Overkill, but I need a quick no-scab heal.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I like bike wheels. I really am fascinated by them. They are so simple. Spokes with a simple thread. A rim. A hub. The technology's been around and mostly unchanged for well over a century. There is nothing mechanically complex aboot them. Yet at the same time... wheels can be complex to build. The wheel must be true. Not only side-to-side but it mustn't hop. And the tension in the spokes should be quite close as well. It's a finesse task. A wheel represents the ultimate balance between opposing tensions.


I built the HighBall wheel that nearly essploded on Saturday. Puzzling. I've never had a wheel do this. Many of the non-drive side spokes were worked loose. Nothing obvious. Suspected culprets: rider too heavy and bent rim, spoke windup, or uneven tension between spokes. The first step was to de-tension the wheel and make sure the rim wasn't bent. As best as I could tell, it wasn't. Thus, the retension began. Given my suspicions I stress releived the wheel often...

...and I meticuluously matched the spoke tension to well under 10%. Not easy. The low tension recommended by Stan's for the Crest rim make 1/8 of a turn on the nipple significant. Like any good nerd, I built a spreadsheet to help visualize the spoke tensions and track the stats.


Because of the tight tolerance I was shooting for, this was a long build, taking nearly two hours! Yikes. All well. I remounted the tire, aired it up to seat the bead. Just by chance I plucked a spoke. Got a *thud* instead of a *ping*. Whaaat? Where did my tension go? I grabbed the tension gauge, and the spoke tension on the non-drive side was too low to even measure. Hmm... I've found the problem...

All wheels reduce spoke tension when air is added to the tires. Think of the tire and tube like a donut. As you inflate it, the hole closes, right? This force constricts around the rim reducing the pull on the spokes. For most rims, the difference is small. Crest rims are obviously some veeeery flexy rims. Good practice says spoke tension should be specified without tire inflation. That convention clearly doesn't apply for these rims. Building to the recommended 100kgf spoke tension... I ended up with less than 50kgf on the drive side with 30psi of air. No spoke is going to keep it's nipples tight at that tension. Expecially not a disc-braked rear wheel that wheel experieces cyclic torque in both directions.


With the tire inflated, I retensioned the spokes to the 100kgf recommendation. I don't think this is what Stan's NoTubes recommends, but it's the only way the wheel will survive. These rims have very little radial stiffness. I'm betting they don't make it through the spring season.

I checked the front wheel and found similar low spoke tensions. No problems with nipples loosening during ride, but the bracing angle offset isn't nearly as drastic as a rear wheel.

Vindicated in a sense. It wasn't my bigg butt, or a sloppy build technique that caused the wheel to fail. Checking spoke tensions post tire inflation will become part of my standard practice, whether I expect it to make a difference or not.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Plan: After this week... just get some saddle time. On dirt.

Result: Mission accomplished. I wake with a massive headache. But after this week, I'm gettin' some dirt! Hop on the HighBall and spin out to the Austin Greenbelt.

Spot this out at Zilker Park along the way. I have fond memories of pedaling around this thing around from the Terlingua race a couple of years ago. I'll leave it at that.


First time on the Greenbelt. Rocky. Lots of baby heads.


And chunks.


It's fun riding. Very different than the sandy loamy trail I'm used to. And very convient.

Legs feel good. Head hurts like heck. The bike continues to impress. Still adjusting my technique to the hardtail. It's certainly rougher, but I actually like it better over the rough stuff. Much more predictable. And the suspension doesn't absorb all the momentum.

On the downside... I nurse the bike home very carefully. After getting on smooth pavement it was clear something wasn't right. Several of the rear non-drive-side spokes worked themselves totally loose. One almost out of the nipple. The drive side is still tight. I'll have to de-tension it to know if I bent the rim in a couple of spots or it's a tension issue. I couldn't recall any hard hits. But, I'm above the, errr, recommended weight for these rims. And it can be easy to torque the rim around a rock gap. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guinea Pig Test Results: Restaurant Food Sucks

I'm absolutely convinced there is a relationship between excess calories and/or poor nutrition and depression. I'm not sure what research says. I'd reckon it difficult to control which one precedes the other. Does the depression stem from the calories or does the excess calroies come from the depression. However my experiece this week leads me to think the food leads the way.

Because of work, I've eaten all but two meals out of restaurants this week. And I feel like crap. The physical effects are profound. I've had to loosen my watchband. My feet are swollen so much it feels like I'm walking in wet shoes. I smell wierd. My weight is obviously up. And despite consuming an excess quantity of calories... I still feel hungry!? Obviously there are tons of hidden salt, MSG, and calories ("enhancers?") added to the food I've eaten. It grosses me out. I also wonder if diet composition substrate plays a role here. My diet tipped drastically toward fat-based, instead of carbohydrate-based, this week.

With such profound physical effects... why *shouldn't* mental effects be anticipated? I feel a malaise. The blues. A funk. That I cannot attribute to any specific event or happening in my life. Granted this week has been tough. But I endured far worse. As I sat on the couch last night contemplating "why do I feel like this?", I can't help but think there is some mechanism pushing my chemistry toward this. Clearly my body's chemistry is far from it's natural stasis.

I've always thought vegetarians a touch crazy. But... it's a lot harder to hide "enhancers" in salads. Even harder in vegen dishes. Maybe... just maybe, there is something to the 'I just feel better' often cited. Like I always thought, it's all in their heads. HA!

Eating poorly and working excessively is no way to go through life. The true triangle of hell is high stress + poor nutrition + sedantary lifestyle. And although this is just a transient situation for me, for many it's not. It's the perfect description of most engineers. The office banter this morning affirms. Among a group of five people, none of us could recall co-workers or acquiantices in our career field that lived into their 80s. None. Not one. That is striking. The list of people that died young was easy to come up with. We've lost two in the office in the last few months. One was 73 and could barely even walk.

Granted. None of this is scientific. But, it's worth trying the obvious solution. Look for me to be packing my lunch when meetings go all-day. At minimus. I hate to come off as snobbish, or stand offish. But the alternative is way, way too expensive.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Enemy Strikes

Plan: 4x 9'minute intervals at 95-105% FTP with 5'min recovery between. On the recovery, unclip and pedal lightly with high cadence with one leg until fatigue and swap.

Result: Nothing. I got screwed into an afterwork dinner, that I neither planned nor agreed to attend. I hate eating out in swanky places. My preference is simple, yet high quality food. Not what this place offered.

As I look over the menu there is literally *nothing* I want to eat. Nor should eat. Everything... From salad to steak to fish to crab had some sort of high fat adder. The menu called them "enhancers". Bacon where it didn't belong, cream sauce, butter sauce, oil basted, sesame encrusting, you name it. There was no escaping it. And all of it seemed designed to cover poor quality food, rather than "enhance".

With much persuasion of the waitress I ordered a 5oz filet steak with nothing added. NO! I don't want the lump crap meat and cream sauce on top. NO! I don't want the butter glazed (undoubtedly chinese) crawfish topping.

It came with two tablespoons of mashed potatoes. And nothing else for $38. Still it was curiously rich. I was left with a strong aftertaste of clarified butter. Not sure if that was from slathering the steak in butter, inclusion in the potatoes, or soaked into the $13 -i wish i were joking- side order of broccoli (consisting of 3 whole stalks!! about 12 cents worth) I ordered a la carte in attempt to make a somewhat complete meal. Despite my best effort... Somewhere somehow my food got "enhanced".

The best part... As soon as the dinner plates were cleared, the room seemed to get brighter. Startled, I looked around. But it wasn't the whole room. Just our table. I looked up at the ceiling above the table... they had a spot light above it shining brightly. (all the other tables had a similar light fixture, but where unlit) Just like a bar at closing time... Like clockwork, as soon as the cheque arrives... the light comes on encouraging you to leave. Sneaky bassturds! I felt like cattle. I also told the waitress to knock it off. She wasn't amused when I used the word "mooooo".

Most would say "you ate for free at one of the best known Houston restaurants". I'd have preferred to have ridden my bicycle and had a satisfying post ride PB&J. That's just how I roll.

The rest of the week is in jeopardy. All of the chores I needed to get done tonight, didn't get done. I've missed a key ride for the week. I'll be lucky to be caught up and on the bike by Friday. Crap. This was one expensive "free" dinner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rest Day

A day away from the saddle. Needed. My hamstrings are painfully tight. My right knee is stiff and tender. My hip mobility has taken a dive. My left glute is a bit tweaked. And my feet are sore. We cyclists are a whiny lot. 45'minutes with a foam roller, a rope for stretching, and a furtive application of Biofreeze does a lot of good. Capping it off with a good night's sleep...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Today's Ride

Plan: 3:hours. Endurance pace. 65-85% of threshold power. Crank it up over any hills, but keep the average in the Level 3 power zone.

Result:Worked this ride in by starting late (cooler temps) and finishing in the dark. The pace was choppy, as always when riding urban streets. Legs are feeling the upped power targets. It's taking a little longer each time to recover between rides. Rest day tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maintenance Day

Woke up to rain today. Local trails doused. Add the unrecovered legs from yesterday's ride... it's a good day for some much needed bike maintenance.

The basics. Wash. Lube. Adjust. First the wife-in-training's bike. Then my bike.

I also re-cabled my bike. Gone are the Gore RideOn cables. Adios.

2011-0718_ 018

Replaced with standard DuraAce cables. The RideOn 'sealed' system just adds tons of drag. And after a short time the inner sheath frays, and drags more than a "dirty" cable does. Nice idea, but poor execution. My rear shifting is much improved, as is brake operation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Day Late, A Week Early

Plan: 2x 22'minute intervals 85-100% of threshold power (FTP) with a 5'min respite between.

Result: I mistakenly rode 24'minute intervals. HA! That's next weeks plan. So, I got a little bonus work. This ride was scheduled for yesterday. That rained out. Doing some serious recovery tonight. so I can perform the 3:hour endurance ride scheduled for tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What was That?

I was stricken with something over the weekend. Not sure what? I slept almost 12 hours overnight Friday. And although I did some riding on Sunday, I was remarkable weak. No kick whatsoever. And struggling with hills that should cause no bother. I have no idea what that was all about. By Tuesday... I was OK, but still a bit off. Today's ride felt normal

This is the second week of the new cycle. Up on the power. Down on the duration. It's a bigger step than usual. More aggressive this time. I want to push the upper bound of my fitness this cycle. I've ratched up the training power targets almost 20% this cycle. Two weeks in... and I'm tolerating it well. Just hungry all the time. A battle in itself, as I'm trying to lose a few pounds for fall.

In two weeks I may have a different opinion on how well I'm tolerating things as the long-term fatigue accumulates. Stay tuned.

At the same time... I'm monitoring my chronic training load (CTL) very closely. Think of CTL as a 42-day long non-linear average of the total power produced during all of your workouts. Here's more info for the inner geek HERE> , but luckily my training log automatically calculates all this. Working toward a personal best (highest) during this cycle. I've used this model quite successfully this year in predicting my fitness. It's also been great for helping decipher if I'm fatigued, or just being lazy. Watching it also helped show me just how much of my training has been 'junk miles'.