Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Rides

Yesterday (Christmas Eve) I got out for a very enjoyable 34 miles in z2/z3.

Dist: 34.3 mi
Avg. Speed: 19.1 mph
Duration: 1:48

I rode shortly after lunch so didn't eat anything for the entire ride.  Felt good the entire ride.


Dist: 48.3 mi
Avg. Speed: 18.3
Duration: 2:38

Again started the ride shortly after lunch - I've found this makes the ride a lot more pleasant.  This ride was entirely z2 except for some hill climbing.  It was kinda surreal riding in the middle of "winter" in shorts and a jersey.  I downed a PowerBar of the nut variety at about mile 20, and that combined with an entire bottle of gotorade mix got me through the entire ride without bonking.

The extra 14 miles compared to yesterday's ride made a big difference in how I felt at the end.  

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rides Rides Everywhere

Since I posted last I've gotten in one fairly long and one short-ish ride.

Distance: 45.5 mi
Avg. Speed: 18.7 mph
Duration: 2.5 hours

This was a very pleasant ride - I had eaten a large lunch about 45 minutes before starting, so I didn't get too hungry. This did wonders for how I felt in the latter half of the ride. This tells me I'm still not eating enough while I ride. I have yet to really pin down a system of eating and drinking that works for me. I've had pretty good luck with Clif bars, but until I'm pretty hungry they are not terribly appetizing.

I also got chased by four dogs on this ride - it seemed like all the loose dogs in the county were out. When I hear a bark now I reflexively reach for a water bottle. Even on large, very aggressive-looking dogs, a quit squirt to the face of just water stops them cold.

I originally planned to do my normal Paceline groupride, but when I woke up the roads at my house were soaking wet. The rule is wet roads @ 8 am = no ride, so I assumed the ride was off. Unfortunately, the roads were dry in town, and I missed a fun ride for no reason at all, which was not thrilling. So instead...

Distance: 27.2 mi
Avg. Speed: 18.7 mph
Duration: 1.5 hours

My dad, who hasn't ridden since Thanksgiving because of back issues and work, rode with me for the first 8 or so miles, and it was nice to have the company while I warmed up. After he peeled off I essentially went and got lost for 20 miles. Although I could have gone longer, it's good I didn't because it started to rain as I pulled into our neighborhood.

It's interesting that my average speed is exactly the same for both of the rides. I don't really know why that is - I consciously work a little harder on the short rides, so my average should be a little higher. However, the decelerations for stops, turns, and the like constitute a larger portion of the ride, as does the warmup. I guess when I've really got the hammer down on longer rides I'm working just as hard.

The other thing this indicates is my base/zone 2 is quite strong, but my zone3 and up is pretty weak and needs work. The cycling team's coach is starting to throw in some hill climbs and spinups into our workout routines to strengthen our upper zones.

Tommorrow I think I'm going hill hunting... time for some hill repeats. :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So it begins...

Finally, done with exams and into Christmas Break.

I am way behind on how much riding I should be doing, so the goal for the break is to crank out the miles.

I brought my road bike, commuter bike, and fixed gear home, the latter two because they need a little work. After I got back today I spent several hours stripping, cleaning, waxing, and reassembling my commuter bike. It's not quite done yet - I need a new shifter cable, and I think some new tires - the current ones I have, Specialized Armadillos, rub the arches of the brake calipers >:-( I have not been impressed with these tires: they feel slow, have no "road feel", don't corner particularly well, and have never seated properly. On top of that, I don't think they're much more flat resistant than my Conti GP 4000s - I almost never get flats anyway (knock on wood!). In general I am not a fan of Specialized tires, but I can't articulate exactly why.

The fixed gear came home because the chainline needs correcting, and I want to wax the frame to give it a little bit of protection against the elements. Part of me thinks I should flip the wheel around and run (or rock) the 22 tooth to make it useful for training, but the other part of me is lazy and thinks it won't work anyway because the dropouts are vertical, and I got really lucky with the 14 tooth working out, so there.

Alright, off to bed to try and break my habit of getting up at 10 am. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seeing Results

Today I got in a 25 mile ride in our bizarre weather: overcast, 65+ deg., and blowing 20+ mph out of the south.

Distance: 25.7 miles
Average Speed: 18.8 mph
Duration: 1:22

Now these might not seem like impressive numbers, but they don't tell the whole story.  For most of the outbound leg (heading south), I was not pushing hard.  When I started paying attention to speed after about 8 miles, I was doing 20-23 mph with a quartering crosswind for most of the ride.  With about 3 miles to go I started cooling down, average speed at this point was 19.0 mph.  

Again, that might not seem impressive, but my best ever 25 miles, on a much flatter loop and in absolutely perfect conditions, was 20.0 mph at the beginning of last summer.  The fact that I averaged 19 mph in much less than ideal conditions, in the off season, feels very, very good.

This ride has shown me that my power output is way up, along with my distance.  My gut feeling up to this point is that my endurance had come way up, but my output had dropped off.  This ride shows this is not the case.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Distance: 65 miles
Average Speed: 16.7 mph
Duration: The better part of 5 hours.

This ride went fine until about mile 45, when I ran out of food.  I bonked hard at mile 50, and averaged a pathetic 13 mph for the remainder of the ride.  The lesson?  Pack more than 2 clif bars for a 65 mile ride in cold weather.  Idiot.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Burn that Turkey

By the numbers:
Distance: 53.6 miles
Average speed: 19.1 mph
Duration: less than 3 hours

This was a fun, but painful ride.  We had a really strong group for the 50 mile ride: several Masters racers, and a couple cat 2 riders, among a generally very strong bunch.  The weather was beautiful, high 50s with a sub-10 mph headwind and a little cloud cover.  This time of year, it doesn't get much better than that.

We rolled out a little late, taking is easy as everyone got warmed up and got stratified according to their speed and distance.  About 4 miles in, after we had gotten rid of most of the slow folks and the shorter distance riders, one of the Masters racers puts the hammer down for a few miles.  Being the idiot I am, I was right on his wheel chasing him up a hill, thinking he was going to let up at the top. 

As it turns out that was his way of getting the pace elevated: for the 3 miles he went hard, we spent the next 10 or so absolutely flying along at 23+ most of the time, in a double paceline.  After a little break for a few miles the pace climbed again, and I got my first pace of a rotating double paceline - there are several subtleties that no one mentions on the internet, and it was hard to keep going in a group that had not trained or ridden together before - gaps would develop, and people didn't rotate back onto the pulling line.  

Anyway, I managed to hang on to mile 30, when I realized the pace wasn't going to slow down again.  At about this point I ran out of gas, figuratively speaking.  I had food with me, but I couldn't get it down fast enough and ride at 25 mph at the same time.... something to practice I guess.  Me and two other guys who had also gotten dropped stuck together and made it in, at a much slower pace than the main group.  

By mile 35 I was in bad shape: my butt was really not thrilled with several high-mileage successive days on the bike, and was letting me know in no uncertain terms.  My 200+ mile week was also catching up with me - my legs felt dead, making it up hills was difficult.  Somehow though, we made it back.  

So I'm taking the next 2 days completely off.  This week (the past 7 days), I've done 210 miles, which is the most I have every done in a week.  Since I essentially went from 20 mile weeks to a 200 mile week, there is a pretty high risk of overtraining.  So... no bike for a few days, to give my butt (and the rest of me) a chance to recover.  Over-extending yourself is a valid training technique, but you need time to recover and repair afterwards.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Distance: 50.6 miles
Average speed: 18.5 mph
duration: 3 hours

Today was a beautiful day, with a high near 60 degrees, so I got out on a new route that goes kinda south of Hagan Stone park.  I had found the cue sheet online, and mapped out the route according to that on, to make sure all the turns were correct (there's nothing I hate worse than getting lost).  I found a couple of errors when I did this, so made my own cue sheet.  

Anyway, I predictably missed my first turn on NC-22 / Appomattox, so added a few miles going back to it.  Other than that it was a pretty uneventful and very pleasant ride, other than the slight, but very consistent headwind that got a bit wearing after a while.  Traffic was very light, even coming back on a different section of NC-22 around where the Tour de Lions ride usually starts (Grey's Chapel).

This is the longest I've spent on a bike continuously in quite a while, and by the time I was done my rear end was very sore.  Again, I didn't eat enough, or really well, especially torwards the end of the ride when I *thought* I knew where I was.

This is also the first ride in a while where I definitely felt like I pushed myself past my comfort level - I was very ready to get off the bike at the end of the ride, where on 40 milers I'm still pretty comfortable at the end of the ride.  It makes me think I should push this hard more often: I'll get better faster, right?

Tomorrow I've got the "Burn the Turkey" post-Thanksgiving ride planned, and am aiming to do the 52 mile route.  I'll see how I feel in the morning though - I might scale it back a little.  

What am I thankful for?  

Today, I'm thankful that rides have both a beginning and an end.
Family to visit.
Bikes of all types
The Internet
Good roads

Those are the top ones that come to mind currently.

Enjoy the Turkey

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I'm back in Greensboro for Thanksgiving, and got in 26.8 miles this morning riding into town to Cycles de Oro and back to get a piece for my speedometer.  Averaged 17.5 mph.  My mileage for this past week is 120 miles.

This ride also saw my odometer turn over 5000 miles!  That brings my mileage for this year to just over 2300.  With luck, I can probably see 2700 miles before the year is over: my goal is 100 miles a week.  I can do more when I have the time, but I know there will be a couple weeks in there I won't be able to ride much because of exams.

Monday, November 24, 2008


One advantage of being young is that I do one ride, give a day to recover, and then I'm pretty much back up to speed :-)

Just a hair over 40 miles today, averaged 17.8, which is a lot better than Saturday (16.4 over the same route).  It was warmer today, blowing a little less hard and more predictably, and I was dressed more appropriately for the temperature.  All of these contributed to bringing the average speed up.

Riding in zone two gives me time to monitor myself for bad habits.  My pedal stroke isn't perfect, but I'm not pedalling in squares either.  It's better than it was a month ago, which is encouraging.

Raising the saddle felt a lot better!  It's kinda sad it took me this long to do it.  Overall comfort was increased and my pedal stroke felt more natural.  I could probably come up a couple more millimeters, but given that this is the one adjustment I am extremely sensitive to, I'm going to leave it as it is for a while.  The other thing I toyed with doing was moving the saddle forward a bit, as I have a tendency to sit a little too far forward.  To be honest, I could use a slightly shorter stem, but that costs money.

Alright, off to class.

Not enough miles

I didn't ride nearly enough the past week because of school: tests, lab reports, and some other stuff.  I got in 42 miles Saturday and came back disappointingly tired.  I suppose it's good enough that after a week off the bike I can go out and do that kind of mileage, but it felt pretty discouraging.

Coupled with the emails I see flying around the NCSU cycling listserv about people doing 80 miles in a day, who I know were drastically weaker than me no more than 3 weeks ago.  That's the really discouraging part.  

But, hopefully that will change in the next week: I've got no classes today, so after I snag a little part for my bike computer I've got about 50 miles planned.  Then a test Tuesday night, then off for Thanksgiving, where I'm looking for some serious mileage to carry me through the last few weeks of school.  

I need to work on my eating strategies when going on these longer rides: doing the same thing I do for 25 miles doesn't cut it.  In the past I haven't  been a fan of cycling-specific foods like power bars, gels, and the like, but I've been reading a little bit of sports physiology and the gels are probably the best thing to have on a moderately long ride, because they're quickly converted into sugars.  My granola bars are a pretty complex food that takes a while to break down, and doesn't last really long.

If I was really smart I would email our coach and ask for guidelines for building up the mileage over the next few weeks: progressing from 45 miles up to 80 or so, but I probably won't see any benefits from training this scientifically right now, because my week-to-week mileage is all over the place.  I know what I need to be doing from a training perspective: ride lots of slow miles.  It's just a matter of squeezing those miles in.... in miserable weather.

In other news, I moved the saddle on my road bike up 8 mm, which is the first change to that bike's setup in a loooong time.  I'll see how it works on today's ride.  After riding the fixie for a week I got on the road bike and went, "Oh hey!  The saddle's too low."  Which is what my dad's been telling me for ages.  I asked for a professional bike set-up for Christmas, but it might become a birthday present.  But I'm riding enough now to justify a moderately scientific bike setup session, I think.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Zoom Zoom

Today I finally got my new fixed gear completely put together and rideable!  

Early this afternoon I swung by 1304 bikes and found a seatpost that fit my frame.  They had closed Hillsborough for a run or something, and I had never driven over there before, so I predictably managed to get myself pretty lost on my way.  My sense of navigation completely goes down the toilet as soon as I get in a car.  Dunno why.

So, the only downside to this seatpost is it uses an older style of clamping the saddle rails, but has a notched interface - combining the worst of both seatpost styles.  Idiots.  This means a) it's nigh on impossible to get the bolts tight enough to completely prevent the saddle from changing its angle when bumped hard, and b) it's impossible to get the damn saddle perfectly level.  And I'm pretty anal-retentive about level saddles.  So I'm still finagling with the saddle to get it tolerable.  Right now it's slightly nose down and I feel like I'm falling off the thing.  

Tonight, after I got my second-to-last lab report done, I took it for a little spin around downtown Raleigh.  Overall it was about an 8 mile spin as darkness fell.  I took a pretty conservative route for the first bit, getting a feel for the handling and making sure nothing was going to fall off.  I won't bore you with the details.  

I am very impressed with the handling of this bike!  Stiff, snappy, corners like it's glued to the freaking road, and an almost telepathic response to every little motion I make.  The 52-14 gear does not feel overly large on this bike, it actually feels nearly perfect.  If it wouldn't cost anything I might go to a 15 cog, but no larger.  I simply love the feeling of jumping on the power and accelerating to 30 mph in one smooth motion: no gear changes, just go go go!  I'm struggling with how to describe how this thing feels accelerating... This is by far the fastest bike to 30 mph I've ever ridden.  I'll catch myself looking down at the drivetrain, wondering where someone's hidden the freaking motor!  Hills just disappear under the wheels, it feels like every milli-watt you generate makes it straight to the road.  This is going to be an incredibly addicting ride!

Alright, enough suspense.  Here's an okay picture of the bike I shot in my room.  Hopefully I'll get some more "picturesque" pictures in the coming days.

Totally rockin' the black/silver scheme... looks a lot shinier in real life.

And yes, the frame is a solid two and a half inches too big for me.  But hell, it was $15.  If anybody's got a 54-58 cm frame of similar style and they want to trade, let me know :-)

Frame: mid-1990s Cannondale aluminium, 24" seat tube, vertical dropouts
Wheels: Alexrims x2100 (nuthin' special)
Cranks: Sugino 171 mm straight cranks
Pedals: LOOK original style clipless
Bottom Bracket: Unkown manufacturer, fully adjustable cartridge bearing (soooo smooth!)
Fork: cro-moly chrome-plated, 1" x 8" steerer tube, threaded
Headset: Dura-Ace cartridge threaded headset
Brake: Shimano RX100 with Ultegra cartridge shoes
Those are all the notable components.

So yeah, I'm a happy camper.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Power Testing and Fixed Gears

Today the NCSU cycling club set up a power testing session in conjunction with our coach.  

Short story:  3 miles, ~8 minutes on a stationary trainer.
Average power: 255 watts
Max. power: ~530 watts for the last ten seconds or so.

It's amazing how that can take it out of you.  I'm completely beat tonight.

For comparison, a horsepower is 746 watts.

In other news, today I got some of the last few parts needed for my fixed gear: lower headset race, half-link for the chain, a fork that fits, and some catridge brake shoes.  All that's needed now is a seatpost that fits, and I'll get that tomorrow from 1304 bikes.

So once I got both wheels on the bike I realized holy cow, this is a big frame...  Negative standover height. :-(  So I guess I'll continue hunting for another fixed gear frame.  The good thing about this hobby/addiction is you can flip parts you don't need pretty easily, so you're not really taking a loss on most parts, the exception being brand-new really high end components.

I took the bike for a short, slow spin around the parking lot with no saddle, just to get a feel.  Initial impression is very positive: good handling, quite snappy, and even with my slightly excessive chain slack, smooth pedalling.  Makes me happy.  Really looking forward to getting this bike set up as a "daily driver" instead of my god-awful heavy commuter.  Initial weight estimate is 16 lbs or so.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I've been riding irregularly the past few weeks, doing about 60-80 miles a week.  Compared to my mileage this time last year, it's up 20 or 30 percent, but it's still not where I want it to be: I really am shooting for about 100 miles a week.  Unfortunately the weather and schoolwork are conspiring against me.  And it doesn't help that it gets dark at 6:00 now (freaking time change...).

Anyway, last weekend I got down to Charlotte for the annual Bike Stampede bike swap.  This was my first time going to one of these events, and it was an eye-opening experience.  I spent the first half hour wandering around with a goofy smile on my face at the sheer profusion of clothing, accessories, parts, and full bikes being offered at ridiculously low prices.  I filled in the gap in my winter clothing wardrobe quite quickly, snagged another jersey and some stuff for my dad, and discovered I had quite a bit of my budgeted cash left over.  Sooo......

I proceeded to buy parts for another fixed gear.  Frame for $15 (I think it's a late 1990s Cannondale R600), fork and stem for $40, headset for $15, cranks for $20... the list goes on.  Of course, the headset was missing the fork race, and the fork steerer tube was too short, so I'm currently hunting around for another fork and a headset race.  But from what of the bike I've got together so far, it looks really good.  I think it's going to weigh about 14 or 15 lbs, which is ridiculously light.  Definitely looking forward to riding it!

Back to training... The next couple of weeks don't look too encouraging, since we're into the home stretch and finals are in sight.  I just need to get enough riding in to not go stir crazy.  Over Thanksgiving I will be able to get in a 60 miler, the "Burn the Turkey" ride around Greensboro.  Very much looking forward to that, too.  Group rides beat the snot out of riding alone, especially in the winter.

Over Christmas I will probably be working some, but hopefully I will be able to step up the amount of training I'm doing.  The one concern is our 4 day trip up to Maryland and how to fit my bike in the car to get up there...  I'll have to think about that.  

I think that's about it, hopefully I will have some pictures of my new fixed up once I get it all cobbled together.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This Damn Sport....

... is like a drug.  I didn't get much mileage in this past week due to schoolwork.  I got in a ride last Saturday that was about 40, and was off the bike (except for going to class.... hardly counts) completely until Thursday night, when I managed to squeeze in 22 miles as the sun set.  Needles to say, by the time Thursday night rolled around I was kind of a mess: couldn't sleep, wasn't eating right, couldn't sit still, couldn't concentrate...  Like a junky without his fix.  Today, since I got 35 miles in, (screw the !@*%& rain, I'm riding!), I feel nice and mellow :-)

Hanging around cyclists, I've noticed it's easy to tell who's ridden that day and who hasn't: the guys who are relaxed, not saying much with a goofy contented smile on their face got a ride in that day.... The ones who are animated, can't sit still, those guys didn't get to ride.  Naturally you have to take into account their natural pre-dispositions, but the different is striking.  It's like all cyclists have split personalities, depending on their daily mileage.  

I forget where I heard this saying, but it goes something like "the human body is an incredible machine: it thrives on hard work".  And it is so true - the more work you train your body to do, the less it likes to sit still.  Where I am now, vegetating for 2 or 3 days straight becomes nearly physically painful... cabin fever-esque.

Anyway, today, as I said earlier, I got about 35 miles in.  Average speed of 18.1, and I was mostly taking it easy, shooting for zone 2.  I had a nasty 10+ mph headwind for most of the ride, but it bothers me less when I'm taking it easy.  Probably because I don't feel like I'l throwing watts away beating my head against a brick wall trying to go just a little faster.

This weekend I've been poking around the net looking at faired recumbents.  Now before you laugh, remember that the fastest a human has ever gone under his own power is on one of these machines: 82.33 mph was the new record set this summer by Sam Whittingham (I think I spelled that correctly).  Whichever way you cut it, that is fucking FAST.

An old friend of my dad's, John Tetz, has been messing around with these machines for a number of years now.  There's a lot of innovation going on in garages and workshops all over the world on these things.  If I had an extra $2000 or so and a lot of extra time, I think it would be cool to build a faired 'bent and put something like a 200W electric assist in it.  Done right, you could easily keep up with urban traffic, with the electric assist helping you get up to speed quickly and giving you an extra boost up hills.  You could even take a page from the hybrid's book and recover energy while braking, but I'm still mentally tossing around how you'd make that work and not impair normal braking.  Just something to think about.  With the economic downturn (have we moved to using "recession" yet?), this might be just what we all need to start driving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thursday + Friday + Saturday

Thursday I didn't get a ride in, partly because of the pretty lousy weather we were having, and partly because there were some other demands on my time.

Recently I helped a cycling teammate track down a drivetrain noise that turned out to be his freehub - it was rusted up and needed to be lubed quite badly. He said he (gently) hosed his bike pretty frequently, which was probably the source of the water that had gotten in there.

Anyway, I decided to check my bike's freehub because I had recently given it a bath. So I spent a few hours Thursday tearing down both freehubs (mountain bike and road), lubing them up and re-assembling them.

For me, working on bikes is theraputic, it's relaxing, calming. I can almost hear the parts talking to me, telling me how they're doing, how they're feeling. Maybe I'm weird, but I find the more I work on bikes the more I can "hear" what they tell me when I'm riding them, and when I'm working on them. In some ways it's a very intimate language: no spoken words, it's all communicated in the play of the bearings, in the roughness (or lack of) of the surfaces as you re-grease them, in the action of the locknut as you run it down the threads. It gets me very tuned-in to what the bike is trying to tell me as I ride it: what noises come from what, what those noises mean for my safety, and the bike's performance. Like I said, maybe I'm weird, but I enjoy working on my bikes (and other peoples') immensely.


Friday I got out for a very pleasant LSD ride from my parent's house (I'm visiting home for fall break).
Dist: 22.4
Avg: 18.1

It was a little overcast, but still warm enough to be fun, and I didn't mind the wind much since I wasn't pushing hard. There's not much to report, except that I felt really good.

When I went out to get one of our cars inspected (a story all of its own), I grabbed some new Ultegra chainrings from Performance Bike. My current set is getting a little worn, and when I replace the chain I'm going to need to put new ones on. Since 9 speed stuff isn't getting more plentiful, I went ahead and bit the bullet. My bike is slowly turning from a "full Dura-Ace" bike into a "Frankenstein" of different level components. Yeesh.


Saturday was my traditional Paceline "B" group ride. I always look forward to this ride: it's a great group of people and the pace is perfect for me.

We got a little bit of a late start, and rolled out in chilly but comfortable temps. The ride was pretty uneventful for the first 5 miles - I was warming up a bit slower than usual (the ride leader warms up instantly and always hammers up the first "real" hill of the day). Climbing out from crossing Lake Townsend I shifted from my big chainring into my little one and was rewarded with the chain jamming up on me for about a half second before freeing itself. Since the pedals were not turning the bike dove right, fortunately there wasn't anyone there. I kinda shook my head and got back to the business of climbing, thinking nothing of it.

Somewhere in the next 7 miles or so I ended up in my big ring again, and went to downshift climbing another hill. I hit the lever, come off the gas for a half-stroke as is usual, and realize the bike hasn't shifted. Now there's a funny noise coming from the front derailer, but I can't really diagnose it because now I'm getting passed by riders and there's traffic back. So I mentally shrug, gear down in the back, and start for the front to tell Forrest (the ride leader) I have a mechanical I need to look at at the next intersection.

When we stop, I find the outboard half of the front derailer cage has been broken free and can now no longer push the chain over onto the small ring. I do a quick check to make sure it's not going to fall into the pedals or something dangerous, then remount and keep riding: there really wasn't a whole lot I could do.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, except for one chain drop onto the cranks on a blistering nasty headwind stretch, and I rode on my big chainring the rest of the ride.

Back at the shop after the ride, I buy a new 105 derailer ($50) and head home after meeting an old (elementry school1) friend of mine. After taking off my D/A derailer I decide to have a go at fixing it with some JB Weld. The design of it allows the broken section to carry minimal load, (Sorry, no pictures), so I think I have a chance of making it work. Seeing as I'm going back to school tomorrow I will probably keep the 105 derailer just in case.

As for the ride stats:
Dist: 41.0
Avg: 19.6

For a B group, that's not too shabby.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Morning Ride

Rode this morning shortly after getting up.
Dist: 26.0
Avg: 17.4

I initially planned to do a zone 3/4 workout, but after I got out there and warmed up I could tell it just wasn't going to happen.  My legs felt a little stiff, lack of power when accelerating or standing to climb.  Also was a little cold - mid 50s when I started, with a headwind for most of the ride.  Also, I typically don't ride particularly well in the morning.

So I backed off and just rode.  About 2/3 of the way through I caught sight of some riders ahead of me and put the hammer down to catch them.  Turns out it was Will, Bryan, and a new guy riding a softride (lol).  They were taking it very easy, so it was nice to putter along with them for the rest of the ride.

Off Days

Haven't ridden at all Monday or Tuesday because my right shoe was getting repaired - I broke the middle strap in half tightening it one night.  The shop did a really nice job fixing the strap, but in retrospect I should have had them reinforce the top strap at the same time, because it will do the same thing in the near future.

In other news, Fall Break starts Thursday.  I will be going home to attend to a few things, and to join my traditional summer Saturday morning Paceline ride once again.  I plan to ride all days, and depending on how I feel I may try to stick with the fast A group, which does more like a AA pace.... low to mid 20s is the norm for them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

LSD and MTB Races

Friday I got in about 36 miles, which felt really nice. I'm trying to start doing base miles in preparation for the road season (called LSD... so I'm not talking about the drug here). I averaged about 18.4 mph, which is a little fast for a zone 2 workout.

Saturday I got up at the ass-crack of dawn (6 am) and went to Pfeiffer University's mountain bike race in Uwharrie National Forest with the rest of the cycling team. Now I am not a mountain biker by any stretch of the imagination, and this was the only race I've done all season because of schoolwork.

The original plan was to do all three events: XC, TT, and short track. The XC race was 8 miles of mixed singletrack and fire roads that had been described to me as "flowy". Seeing as I don't do a lot of mountain bikeing and I was riding in road shoes and cleats, flowy is a good thing. A couple of teammates and I pre-rode the first mile or so before the race started as a warm up and to get a feel for the course.

When the race started I was in fourth position out of 10, but going around the first downed log I understeered and ran wide, which put me in (I thought) second to last. I assumed I was essentially going to be non-competitive in this race, so it didn't bother me.

The general flavor of the first half of the race was I would gain crazy time and positions on the uphills and smooth sections of singletrack and fire roads, due to my "roady power". The first half felt like about 60% singletrack and 40% fireroads, and the singeltrack was not very techinical.

On one of the later fire road sections I caught sight of a teammate David trailing a Pfeiffer guy ahead of me and hit the gas to catch them, thinking they were sitting something like 3rd and 4th position. I thought it was kinda odd that David would sit in on a guy when there were riders up the trail, but I didn't think about it too much and blasted past them. I didn't look back to confirm, but I felt them accelerate to hold my wheel, which I also thought was kinda odd given what positions I thought they occupied.

About a minute after passing them the road turned down and I kept the hammer down, determied to gain as much time as I could on those ahead of me. So here we are, barreling down a rough section of fire road at something like 25 mph, and I catch sight of a downed tree about 30 feet in front of me. I scream out, "Oh SHIT!! STOP STOP STOP!" and hit the brakes as hard as I can without locking up wheels. I come to a dead stop about 2 feet from the tree, the Pfeiffer guy (who David later said nearly rear-ended me), does an elegant little bunny hop over the tree and takes off, and David follows him. I manage to get one foot unclipped and stumble / drag the bike over the tree. That was the last time I saw either of them, because diretly after that we got back onto singletrack, which turned extremely technical (at least for me).

After this point things got quite hairy for me: the trail got rougher, with a lot of loose rocks and very steep uphill and downhill sections. My pace slowed to a crawl. I got passed by several people from the C field, and at some point just assumed I was DFL: dead fucking last. Operating on this assumption, I took things very easy, really just out enjoying myself and going as fast as I felt comfortable with. On one downhill I got passed by one of our A riders doing about 20 mph when I was doing something like 3; he went past me and looked like he was spending more time airborne than on the trail. I just kinda shook my head in amazement and kept chugging along.

The trail gradually got a little less rocky, cutting through some relatively young forest. It was here I crashed. It was at low speeds and similar to my other mtb crashes: some random little thing in the trail just kicks my front tire out from under me. I haven't wrecked on something I'm actually worried about beforehand yet.

I should mention that I really dislike crashing. I sat on the ground for a bit, then took my time fixing the chain, which had dropped in between the cassette and spokes. I got passed by another C here as I wiped the grease off my hands and got back on the bike.

At some point we got back on the fire roads for the last mile and a half or something, and this section was straight uphill. At one point on this section I pulled off the road and stopped to take a drink - I can't get a bottle off of my frame rolling because it's essentially wedged in place between the top and down tubes. After this I felt better. This section was pretty unremarkable except for the sheer amount of uphill that just kept going and going and going.... I was really feeling my 36 miles from the day before on this section.

And then the last 100 yards were singletrack again. Overall I finished 7th out of 10, with something like an hour and one minute. David took first when the Pfeiffer kid dropped his chain on the fire roads with a time of 47 minutes and change.

After the race he told me that him and the Pfeiffer kid were first and second when I passed them, which made their behavior make so much more sense!

In retrospect, I could have finished a couple of places better if I had known I was not non-competitive. But live and learn - mountain is not my sport, so I was happy to come out in one piece.

I learned after finishing that the time trial was going to be that same trail backwards.... Yikes! There were quite a few sections of downhill rock gardens that would have nearly impossible for me going the other way, and this combined with the trail as a whole and my level of skill encouraged me to back out, so I did. I also decided that staying overnight for one short event the next day wasn't worth it, so I came home a day early with David.

Overall I'm glad I went to one mountain race this season. I'm really, really bad on a mountain bike, and maybe with enough practice I can stop crawling along trails scared for my life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hellz Ya

Went for a ride this morning:
23.0 miles
19.5 mph average speed

I've still got it :-)

Almost entirely zone 4 after warm up (~5 miles).
Didn't have a problem getting back on the bike a bit later to go to lunch either. Good sign.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


First, I have to say I'm astonished this url was available.

Second, a little bit about me:
I'm a Junior attending North Carolina State University, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science (the mascochistic trend begins).  I began racing with the cycling team last year, and had a fairly succesful (if abbreviated) season in D class.

The reason for that abbreviation was a broken collarbone recieved in a fairly spectacular mountain biking accident that involved about 25 feet of horizontal airborn travel.  I won't go into the nasty details here, but suffice to say I raced the first two weekends of the road season (NCSU and William & Mary), and then the very last, the conference at Wake Forest.  In between I did essentially zero riding, as you can imagine.  

Despite this I finished pretty well, taking 4th in our home road race, 3rd in the Crit, and 4th in the W&M TT (double flatted out of the W&M RR).  I placed 6th in the final road race of the season at Wake, which is not bad for being off the bike for several months.  

I admit I was kinda sandbagging D's, but given that I had never raced before I decided to start there instead of C, which was a good choice I think.  

My fitness last season was something like this: 25 mile rides were routine, and felt like a good workout.  I could go further, but not often and not as hard.  My average speeds solo for 25 mi were in the 18.5-19.0 mph range right before I trashed my collarbone.

So now we're kinda up to current times.  

This summer I did not ride as much as I wanted: I would commute to work a couple of days a week (18 mi round trip), and on Saturdays I would join a group ride from a LBS that was called a "B" ride, but we usually averaged 18.5-19.5, which is more like an "A" pace.  Distances for these rides were usually sub-40 with 12-17 people.

The result of this was my time trialing capability went down: at the beginning of the summer I averaged 20 mph, including warm up, over 25 miles.  At the end of the summer I was not as fast, but I could go a LOT further and still feel really good.  

Since getting back to school I've started riding a bit more, mostly around 20 mile jaunts with some intervals thrown in.  I can feel my power coming up, but I think I'm losing distance.  The problem is with the amount of schoolwork I have, I don't have time to spend all of Saturday pounding out 60+ miles, although that would be really nice.  

My main goal is to carry a pretty high level of base fitness through the winter.  Most roadies right now are either coasting coming off of summer, or starting into their "long slow distance" (LSD) base mileage.  Tonight I went out and did intervals until I had trouble staying upright.  I'm not sure if this is a good overall strategy to be doing intervals now, but it felt good.  

Alright I'm gonna stop here, it's getting kinda late.