Friday, January 23, 2009

Finally, some warm weather!

Today was the first day since the fifteenth that I was able to ride outdoors, and man did it feel good to break my "cabin fever"!

To keep from going crazy, I had been riding the trainer a lot over the past week, concentrating on z3 intervals. I've found that I can tolerate about an hour on the trainer before I start to get bored. This normally works out to two z3 intervals at about 15 to 20 minutes long, and one or two shorter higher-power intervals as well. This certainly doesn't wear me out properly, but it takes the edge off my twitchiness.

On the 21st I re-wrapped my bars and put completely new cables and housings on. While I had all the control lines off, I took the opportunity to flip my stem over and drop my bars an inch or so. The new bar tape (bright orange, in keeping with the original color scheme) looks very pro. I also took my time to run the control cables properly, and I am very pleased with the result - shifting has tightened up noticeably.

Today I hooked up with Brian K., whom I've ridden with before. This guy weighs pretty much nothing, so in the past he's completely stomped me going up every hill. We also had a new-ish guy tagging along (no helmet, no water bottle for a 40 mile ride!); he did okay for most of the ride, but at about mile 30 he really started dragging. No more will be said of him :-)

Anyway, throughout the whole ride Brian had a lot harder time putting the hurt on me than in the past: on every hill he was chasing me, rather than vice-versa. This really, really felt good: I could clearly see an improvement in my power output from the intervals I had done in the past week, and my general volume of training. Brian is a strong, predictable rider: after just a couple rides with him I can predict how he will act pretty well, and how hard he's going to go in certain sections. I think he's going to end up racing C's with me, so it will be nice to already know how he rides.

The lowered bars felt really nice - I had no back or neck problems during or after the ride. The bike handles a little differently, a little "sharper", if that makes any sense. I could tell I hadn't been on the bike enough, though: my rear end was complaining by the end of the ride, and my handling skills had deteriorated a little bit. That's one downside to riding the trainer: you lose the feel for the bike.

One of the other things I've been concentrating on while riding the trainer is pedaling smoothly and in circles. There's a mirror on my bathroom door that I aim so I can see myself and observe my pedal stroke. I've noticed, at least on the trainer, that I do not keep my hips very stable. During the ride today, if I felt myself flagging on a climb, I would concentrate on pedaling in circles, and pushing all the way through the bottom of the stroke. Like magic, more power would come from nowhere, and climb would seem to flatten out! I need to work on pedaling in circles all the time, but the difference in power is nice to feel on a tough climb when I need a mental "pick-me-up".

In other news, I've been following the blog of Avery Wilson, little brother to an apparently fairly successful racer. He wants to upgrade to B's, so I asked him what his 10 minute power and weight were, to compare him to my own numbers. Turns out he produces 215 Watts at 55 kg, for a W/kg of 3.91. I produce 255 Watts at 68 kg (150 lb), for a W/kg of 3.75. So he's got me beat by a little bit. However, my wattage numbers are a tad old, and I would guess I could produce around 260 or 265 Watts for the same interval now, which yields 3.90 W/kg best case. Not half bad. Depending on how the season goes, an upgrade to B's once I satisfy the upgrade requirements is a definite possibility.

I am seriously psyched for this season - I feel good, my training's going well, it looks like I'll be in the top tier of the C field power-wise, and my class load is light enough I have time to train, rest, and race like I want to.

Bring the rain.

EDIT ---------------

Today's ride stats:
Distance: 44.4 mi
Avg. Spd: 19.0 mph
Duration: 2:30

I'm rather proud of that average speed.

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