Weeee!!!!

Well, I’ve made transition from occasionally (3-4 times a week) riding in the basement (in the summer!? what was I thinking) to commuting again. And boy oh boy I didn’t realize how much I missed riding outside and, alas, didn’t realize how badly out of shape I’d gotten. The only blessing about being out of shape so badly is how easy it is too improve. I started commuting on Monday night and already by Thursday the rollers take less starch out of my legs. I still get gassed way to easily and can’t just keep it in the big ring and spark up a a hill of any length. The most positive note from today was how tired my legs were feeling during the afternoon, but 10 minutes into my ride home that tiredness was barely a memory. 

 

Last Night

Well, I did a 105 minute “force” workout with seated “low cadence” intervals every five minutes from minute 20 for 70 minutes before I stopped. Afterwards, I was too drained to do much other than re-hydrate and go to sleep.

During Those Dark Winter Months

I thought I’d give a quick update on this winters training. First a little background, for some years I raced bicycles (road). Two winters ago, I didn’t train very well during the off season with conflicts including family matters, work (business trips for example), and (uhm) time spent blogging. That meant I really only was on the road three or four days a week and usually even then wasn’t riding very hard. That doesn’t cut it if you want to race. With few exceptions you have to train every day. Subsequently at this time it has been a little over two years since I’ve sat on my bike lined up to a start. Early this summer, actually May through June I managed to ride every day except for about two over a 6 week period. My fitness started picking up. By mid-September I lined up my training program and began training in earnest. Since mid-October I’ve been working out 9-14 hours a week. And then …  last Friday we finally had some warmer weather. And … I left work a little early to ride.

I’m glad to report, that power metrics don’t lie. To borrow a phrase cycling pro’s occasionally use, I had “some good sensations” in my legs. I had a short 2 hour ride in the sun and the wind and did a hard 30 minutes in the middle. My recovery is quite good, which means I have some endurance. Basically, that means after a short 1-2 minute very hard effort I don’t have to ease up very long, just a few pedal strokes really, before I’m ready to go again. My power seems back. In short, I think I’m back to where I was at close to my best fitness levels. And best of all, it’s only March. I’ll still need to find some group riding or training races to remind myself how to corner hard in a pack and ride shoulder to shoulder in a bunch and I’ll likely still have over-estimated my fitness and will grovel at the back of packs whipping back myself into shape some more … but if the endurance is good that should go well.

However to put that in perspective … I should note I never was a top contender … and I likely won’t be one now. I’m a mid-pack age level (masters 40+) racer and only manage to hang on in national caliber Masters 40 fields. I would add, in my defense, that I could hang on in those fields on my good days which is saying something. If I can beat the hour again at the 40k ITT (Individual Time Trial) then I’ll be back to where I was at my peak. What I’m saying is that while I rarely win, but I do have fun.

Training/Cycling Update

Well, no essay tonight. I have on the other hand, worked out almost 7 hours this week (it’s Thursday and the workout week begins on Monday) and 125 “miles” as recorded on my indoor trainer (and that 7 hours includes 30 minutes in the weight room). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I did manage to do 6 sprint intervals and recorded over 1000 watts output on each of those efforts as well as 6 thirty second efforts averaging 500-600 watts. The sooner it gets warm around here the better. I’m not looking forward so much to the 6 hours scheduled for this weekend in the basement.

Superbowl -> Posting Might Be Light Tonight

Now … I used to watch a lot more football but in recent years Superbowl Sunday is a day to ride. In the 90s if it was warm enough … this is one of the best winter days to get on the road because by 3pm the roads are empty. Everybody is at their Superbowl bash to stay. However, this is a unusually cold winter, and while today is temperate by comparison … 33 degrees F … it’s still too cold log 80 miles on the road for me anyhow.

But … I’ve got the trainer set up in front of the monitor and this will be my first HD Superbowl. And unlike virtually everyone else watching, I will earn a large net negative caloric day. I’ll be eating and drinking during … but should burn over 2000 calories on the bike … which I will not be making up via GU packets and electrolyte packed drinks.

I will take a short break to change shorts (the switch to dry shorts is a wonder) at halftime.

Wish me luck … by quarter 4 I’m going to be wanting to quit I think. It will a long time to ride on a stationary bike. 🙂

Training Update

This weeks “recovery” week went well. My lower back, which was strained late last in a heavy lifting session is just a little bit stiff, and the heavy lifting in the weight room is now down, the remainder of the year are “Strength Maintenance” sessions. If I remember correctly, I should see some small improvements in the weight room during the season, but most of the “resistance work” is done via low cadence high tension sessions on the bike which is a more focused resistance movement which make sense as I’m not seeking general strength, but for a specific motion, i.e., cycling.

Monday I begin a 2 week (+ one recovery week) cycle labeled “base 2”. In this cycle I begin strength and high intensity sessions on the bike while continuing developing endurance, which remains the primary focus. Sunday calls for almost 4 hours on the bike, which because it’s just a stationary indoor bike ride … I may juggle things and reduce that to 2:40 or so. I do also have two days out of town (one night) working with a long term customer … but I’m hoping to get a morning ride and an evening ride on the respective days and that should cover that.

On a good note, a sporadic electrical connection on my power tap/indoor trainer is working again … so direct “power” measurements will return to the training regime, which is really great news. My tempo time trial exercise Saturday put where I dial in about 150 bpm heart rate and measure power … at about 270 watts. That should be sustainable for some time … the question remains how much I can improve on that before spring. 🙂

Training Update

Base cycle #1 completed, week one was repeated after a week which missed several days of training due to travel. This week is a recovery week, which is much appreciated as I’m feeling a little “over-trained.”

Training Update

On the workout front … this is a short work-week … and interestingly enough the first week since my training program began that I will be spending more time training more than my 11 year old. Geesh … if that doesn’t make act to spur you on … nothing will.

For a little more detail, last week, I made my workout goals actually repeating the first week of the first base cycle, for 12.5 hours in the gym and on the bike. This week … two more hours get tacked on. That 70 mile or 3 1/2 hour indoor ride will be, uhm, the tough bit next weekend … I’m hoping for warm weather to do that outside … but this has been a cold November so I’m not going to bank on it.

Cycling Update

Well, travel and jet lag from the vacation in Europe has faded and for the second week I’m getting regular rides into my legs. After almost a month off, they still don’t feel great, but if this time goes like in the Spring, in about 3 weeks I should feel like my legs and fitness are “coming back”. At that point … I’ll get my training plan in place, join the gym for a 3 month membership for some weight work and get serious (and finally get back to shaving my legs weekly). I remain determined to get in good enough shape to return to racing in the spring. But … a lot of hard weeks are between here and there. And most importantly, I have not have the missed weeks of training any longer, no interruption. Business travel has to include time in a gym on a spinner, that’s the biggest thing. I used to do it. I’ve got to get back in the habit.

It feels good to be riding again. Today was beautiful, clear, cool (about 60) and very little wind. All too soon will be the long dark winter in the basement watching DVDs and maybe some football if I get in good enough shape for that (note: I had a good hard “football” workout I used to do … but I couldn’t do that today … maybe by late October).

Training Progress

As the long (long) time readers know, I used to race cycles, specifically road bicycles. For the last two years, however, life has intruded to the degree where I couldn’t train hard or consistently enough to justify racing. You can’t train 5-6 hours a week and expect to be able to race, unless you are really really blessed by your parents genetic makeup. For the last 6-8 weeks, I’ve managed to put in 10+ hours per week, which has done wonders. If (and only if) I manage to keep that pace and even add a few hours per week to that tally (a 14 hours pwer week average would be fantastic) then I’ll be back for the thrills (and occaisonal spills) and all the benefits of racing to boot.

In the short time I’ve been training, I’m already seeing results (besides having sore leg muscles much of the time). The area in which I usually ride only has short climbs, but compared to a month ago, I’m climbing faster in bigger gears at the same (or higher) cadence. The same slopes for which I was using a 39×17 a month ago (little ring) to climb, now I’m using the 53×17 (or 19) and usually seated. The human body is truly an amazing thing in how it responds to training.

My plan is to continue basically to continue unstructured training until mid-to-late-September at which time, I’ll begin periodization and structured training. I’ve a 2-week vacation in August during which little if any riding will be done. The riding I’m doing now is to build a base.

If, you ride often and enjoy riding (fast) and are considering what it would take to jump into racing. My advice would be to start with time trialing. In the Chicago area, besides more informal club time trials, you can find a time trial offered several times a month at distances between 20 and 40k.  That availablilty of time trials is likely available almost universally throughout the States. So try it. A time trial is a race against yourself. There’s no need for direct comparison to the “rest of the field” and more importantly, no peleton to stay with and with which if you cannot … then your race is done.

What you are mostly trying to do is to compare your time less to others, but to yourself. That is to the time you clocked in the last outing. How much did you improve (or not)? If you can get your 20k time under 32 minutes … you’re easily fit enough (especially if you can sprint) start mass start races (that time is for the men’s field).

My Excuse

Well, no “longer” post is appearing tonight. My excuse … it’s the bike. As (really really) devoted readers know, I used to (road) race bicycles and I hope to get back into racing … perhaps next year. Anyhow I’m riding again (about 8-10 hours a week right now) and while often my ride allows me to think about stuff and develop some for a new post … tonight I did intervals so my brain turned to mush, during the ride.

For those don’t run or bike semi-competitively intervals are basically the only way to get faster. To ride faster, you have to … well, ride faster. Specifically, ride a lot faster than you are accustomed for shorter periods of time in order to stress your body and train it to be accustomed to working harder. That makes your heart, legs, and circulation stronger. The other two main types of training needed are slow (high cadence) easy spinning days, known as active recovery, and LSD. Not the drug, but LSD stands for the acronym Long Steady Distance … to encourage somewhat surprising “low level” biological changes in your physiognomy. The changes to your system include the obvious, training the liver and muscles to store more glycogen, recruiting and growing more capillaries in your legs, and what surprised me is that muscle cells actually begin to have greater numbers of mitochondria as a result of LSD. Pretty cool … however it’s fairly clear that the 90 minute to 3 hour rides are very different from the 7-9 hour LSD rides done by Professional cyclists.

If I manage to keep my training up, my resting heart rate will be back where it belongs in the mid to lower 40s. 😀

Schedule Shift

With the longer days, Mrs Pseudo-Polymath has requested that my daily bike ride take place in the early morning, i.e., I’ll be getting up at 5am to ride (sun-rise 5:20).

It’s late enough already having gotten home at around 9:30pm from Father’s day visit with the in-laws. Anyhow, hopefully the evening will be clearer for thinking about posting and I’ll have a morning meditation while riding to jump start my day … if I can scare myself out of bed at 5.

Wish me luck!

On Last Nights LSD

Prior to heading down for tonights spin, during the SuperBowl I logged 3 hours 20 minutes on the bike during the game and finished too late (and a little too weary) to be interested in eating. A officemate noted that the number of people losing significant weight while watching the game was a substantial minority.

Definition: LSD = L(ong) S(teady) D(istance), not Lysergic Acid Diethylemide . LSD is a workout staple to build endurance in the off-season. After the Superbowl, workouts start getting shorter … and harder (more intensity), tomorrow night … that part of the season starts in earnest.

Go Bears!

Good game for them, good cycling for me too! Made far more bearable by the fact that they were playing well.

I rode (indoors) watching the game, getting in a good 3 hour ride in, which on the road would be about 60 miles. It was mostly an LSD (long steady distance) ride.

The Bears defense came out of hibernation (as I suspected they might). Hopefully, they can do it once more even in the absence of Tommy Harris and Mike Brown.

Georgia on my Mind: Triple Gap

For various reasons unrelated to biking or weather I didn’t get to ride yesterday … which gave my legs a chance, alas, to recover. So today I punished them. I rode just shy of 60 miles north of Dahlonega on a route which apparently has been used in part in the Tour of Georgia judging by the “Go Eki”, “Go Lance”, “Lance turn here!”, and “Horner Rules” paint still left on the road. More important than the 60 mile length of the ride, was the mile of upwards oriented vertical elevation change over three mountain passes. Having my “39” tooth inner ring certainly helped, because it meant I didn’t need my “25” (largest rear sprocket very much) and had it in reserve when I needed it. That helps me psychologically a lot on climbs. This ride on paper seemed a lot harder than Monday’s so I didn’t press it on the climbs. Hopefully I’ll get back to it Friday before the drive home Saturday. North Georgia certainly is nothing (topologically) like the rural areas outside of Chicago, which more resemble a pancake. In Illinois you have much more wind, but here, when you’re not going up, you’re going down. Very little flat riding has been had so far. The weather was fantastic, 60s to 70s and not too much wind. I got a little sunburn but nothing to complain about. I finished the ride eating just one “bar” and two water bottles, but I was pretty thirsty when I got to the car. I would have been “in trouble” if it was much hotter.

Two miscues on directions at the start meant my ride was 57 not 53 miles, but that all turned out fine.

Tomorrow, weather permitting and the report (now) looks good, I’ll return to the ride I did Monday and try to work on attack and recovery on the climbs, that is go over threshold wattage for short spurts and then back off (under threshold) to recover but still keep the pedals turning. I had a lot of heavy breathing Monday, which I have to condition myself to not to do, because it is a counterproductive reflex. Last year, half-way through SuperWeek in Wisconsin that reflex “turned off” on the 5th day of racing, which was really kind of cool. I’m hoping this climbing stint will get a chance to work on removing that reflex earlier in the year.

Sweet Georgia on My Mind

I’m on vacation for the week, so posting should be quite regular … hmm. Anyhow, This last weekend, after a late start Saturday because of various already scheduled events (and last minute business at Church which needed to be tidied up by Mrs Pseudo-Polymath who was feeling ill the night before) we got a 6pm start on our trek South from the Chicago area. We encamped in a local hotel somewhere South of Indianapolis (for which hotels were in short supply perhaps due to the March Madness). Sunday we finished the drive off, with a minimum of insanity.

I’m hoping to get five days of serious rides into my legs before the weeks end, as well as relaxing, trying to get the family to uncork the pressure of the “daily grind” and recharge. Today I did a “Burnt Mountain Loop” from a book recommended to me entitled 25 Great Rides in Northern Georgia. It was a 39 mile loop with one serious 1,500 foot climb (sometimes steep) and the rest was mostly rolling hills. Very different from Northern Illinois roads. My biggest problem was I forgot to change chainrings before leaving and had a 42 tooth ring as my small chainring … not a 39. I stopped at a local LBS and rectified that error. That’s almost a 10% difference in gearing. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain in the morning, but temperatures will be on the rise.

Rats … Foiled again

The muse was quiet tonight … I’ll get an early essay in (and on in the evening).

On the plus side, I had a pretty good interval session on the bike … opened the pipes up a bit. But … I’m a little dopey now so off to slumber I go and don’t worry I’ll shower first. 😉

Mondays

As last week, I had an evening appointment and that sucked my night away. Tonight … the bike wins. Springtime is looming and I’ve got to work out. So in lieu of a “intelligent” essay which requires much thought, I’m going to ramble about my season, training, and where I stand right now.
Continue reading →

Cycling: A Proud Parenting Moment

Today, instead of racing or riding for myself, #1 daughter (age 10) and I toodled off to ride 45 miles (47.5 actually) in a local metric century organized by the Joliet Bicycle Club. Two years ago, we had entered this ride, and my daughter had heroically struggled (and failed) to complete the 30 mile course. She finally had wilted in the 100 degree heat (and cloudless sky) with about 3 miles to go. This year, we had decided to attempt 45. Two moments in today’s ride stand out.

After mile 30 (prior to the 2nd sag stop at 36 miles) she was hitting the wall. Her speed was down. She was struggling. She was hungry and thirsty and hot and her legs were getting weary. But I didn’t have to cajole her, but only told her this would be the hardest part of the ride and that if she got through it, the rest would be easy. She occasionally asked how far it would be to the next sag stop, and I told her. We traded water bottles so she could drink mine dry after finishing hers. And she motored on, uncomplaining. When we turned the last turn toward the sag stop (into the wind for 1 mile) she was disenheartend, but I taught her how to draft. She has been leary of riding so close behind another rider to feel the effects, but reveled in it then. We arrived at long last at the sag stop, ate, drank, and rested a short while. When we continued, she was refreshed and indeed “over the hump.”

The second parenting moment for me was the last 8 miles. We had a 5 mile downwind run. A squall was threatening to the West and we had a stiff wind aiding us. Prior to this, she had never really ridden faster than 18-20 mph. Wind-aided she was easily clocking 20. She asked me to show her what 30 looked like, so I slowed down and sprinted past at 34. She shifted and started going 25 herself. Flying along the road, she lit up with the joy that comes naturally with riding fast on a well oiled machine on a good road with a tailwind. We had a blast sharing that moment. I commented to her that she was really hooked now as a rider/racer. She grinned in assent. I think we will savor that moment.

Cycling: Workout Tape Review: Spinervals 18.0

Last night, short on time I hopped on the trainer and did a “Spinervals” workout, #18. Coach Troy has put out a series of race intensity training sessions. As the race I was planning to do was cancelled, instead I did “Bending Crank-Arms“, a strength building “on-bike” workout. Today … I’m very sore. It remains to be seen whether I’m sore while riding, but it seems that the workout was good and hard. The workout consists of sets of lengthening series of light weight (pre-exhaustion) squatting followed by an isometric squat. Each of these sets of squatts are interleaved by shorter and shorter (which means harder) sets of pedaling at low cadence and high “tension”.

It’s a great workout. I could barely stand when I was done. I’m going to do it again soon.

Cycling: Or Why Lemarkian Ideas are Tempting

Here in Cebu near the Marriott where I’m lodging there is a “Fitness First” gym which holds spinning classes every weekday evening. I have attended 6 sessions (at a rate which is reasonable for the states, but considered extortion here … 500p per day). These spinning classes are held in a small studio, with about 35 bikes. It is well setup with a stage for the leader, powerful speakers, and a lighting system. What it lacks is any sort of ventilation. I have never perspired as much in a 50 minute session as in those classes. It is in the high 90’s with little air circulation, high humidity, and a hard workout. I think I can wring my shoes out after the ride, not to mention my towel and clothes.

Until last night, I kept wondering if heat-exhaustion of heat-stroke was threatening, I kept on until the class was over. However, suddenly yesterday the heat wasn’t so bad. Two weeks out here, plus the other spinning class and some physiological mechanisms are kicking in. I’m still sweating buckets, but … it doesn’t wring me out so bad. Tonight confirmed it, I’m getting acclimated. It is truly amazing how quick that can go. Seeing how good the human body is at that, leads one to wonder how tempting Lamarkian theories of evolution arose.

Schedule Change

Well, everything didn’t work out perfectly with my schedule change. But I did get a good workout in, which has been a little lackluster lately. It was stormy out, so I did an indoor session, spinervals to be exact. Lots of short sharp 10 second efforts. See
(click for full image)
The important lines are the power (purple with left scale) and heart rate, top brown line, right scale. The gap towards the end, was my getting off the bike for plyometrics. Well it left me with quivery legs, which was the point.