Saturday, January 16, 2010

Group vs. Gravel

I folded and went with the CLM crew today.  Truth is, I enjoyed the ride with friends despite needing to train.  I selfishly kept the pace high when I could to meet the goals for today (40 miles with 20mph avg).  After discussing it with Barry, it was the best idea for one particular reason - our buddy Scott is moving to Spain in a few weeks and there is only so much time left.  True, we could go hang out and get a beer, or go bowling (like we did today), but there is nothing quite like the time you spend with friends while in the saddle.  It's just different.  Anyway, here we go...

The crew:  Duane, Whit, Mitch, Sirena, Scott, Brad, Barry, and me.  We rolled out from Paceline to Shallowford and just kept going.  At Fish Brandon, we rolled back to Old Stage and headed towards Lewisville via Powerline Hill.  After Whit brought us scorching down to the foot of the climb, Brad pins it on the early steep section.  I swear he gave me a 'look' right before stomping it - as if to say 'you coming?'  The answer was 'yes' of course, so I jumped out of the saddle.  At this moment, Barry goes by both of us like a flash...


Powerline Hill has three sections and is not a short climb.  Section 1 is steep and has a few curves.  Section 2 flattens out a bit allowing some recovery, while Section 3 is where the final attacks come before a stopsign.

*we're back*

Barry was new to Powerline, so his attack was disconcerting.  Did he know what he was doing?  Was he going to carry that pace all the way up, or was he trying to lure others out of their comfort zone?   Turns out Barry was stretching the legs and wasn't sure how long the climb was...THANK GOODNESS because that would have been quite painful.  Brad, Duane, and I rolled to the top as a trio, with Duane taking the sprint. 

As we regrouped and returned to Lewisville, I had unfinished business.  Although I couldn't talk the group into hitting the dirt sections with me, I knew I needed to start the process of trying it out.  I hung a left on Conrad Rd. and zipped across the Yadkin River and toward East Bend.  Just past a Taxidermy stand (no kidding), there was a road to the right Barry mentioned to me as having gravel I took it. 

What a rush.  The feeling initially is very strange, then less so as one gets used to the dulling of usually sharp road bike responses.  I tried speeds up to 25mph with no problems.  This section actually has a steep downhill (with s-curves) and a gnarly pitch coming up the other side.  With plenty of loose rock and sand, I got a chance to try climbing in and out of the saddle.  I can already tell that my mountain bike experience will come in handy as I balance power and traction on skinny road tires.

I was pretty tired by this point, but followed Butner Mill until it returned to Flint Hill, then rode back to Lewisville.  The solo sections gave me a chance to up the average just a bit, so I moved closer to goal than expected. 

Here are the stats:

Route:  As above, but briefly:  Shallowford to Fish Brandon and back Old Stage to Powerline Hill.  Conrad to Flint Hill then a Butner Mill loop before returning Flint Hill to Grapevine (ouch) to Shallowford. 
Time:  2:06:44
Dist:  41.33mi
Avg:  19.5mph

Addendum:  Adding the extra bit I did solo, total mileage was 60.11.  Whew.  I didn't track average speed over the extra 19 miles, but I am sure it was below 19.5.

A few shots from the fun.  Here we paused at the end of Fish Brandon so Mitcher could grab a Mellow Yellow. 

The first dirt section begins...

A grey sky loomed all day, but we stayed dry.

The Yadkin River valley had a smoky appearance today, but is striking nonetheless.

The hard work over, I took a break and enjoyed the river park.

Next up:  Time trial to determine training zones (for intervals) on Monday.  Better get some rest...

Goin' for the 'Kill - Day 20.

Can't wait to hear about today's ride!

The planned route du jour will take Erich off-road for the first time. Given that the Battenkill race features 15 miles of gravel roads, we thought it would be wise to break the Cervelo in early, allowing Erich to adapt to the change in traction...or lack thereof! I know it's not normal to take a road bike off-road (on purpose), but prepping for this race would seem to be an exception to that rule. So loaded with plenty of spare tubes, Erich and his partners in crime just took off a short time ago. Looking forward to that update later on!

In other interesting traning news, we've decided to modify tomorrow's 15-mile Recovery Ride for two main reasons. #1 - The weather could be miserable. And while it's good to train in all kinds of elements because you never know how the weather will be on Race Day (yikes), reason #2 trumps reason #1. Bringing us to #2 - In exchange for Sunday's Recovery Ride, we're planning a little Time Trialing adventure for Monday. Expect plenty of sweatin', sufferin', and most importantly, number crunchin'!

Should be lots of stay tuned!

Friday, January 15, 2010


Barry came through.  Tomorrow we go off-road.  Yee-haw.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Temps rose in the 50s today here in northwestern NC, which means by nightfall temps were only back into the 40s.  For those of us trying to get out and stretch the legs a bit, that is downright warm compared to the arctic blast of the past few weeks.  We had a little snow the week before Christmas, and the cold hasn't really stopped since.  There are still piles of snow in the corners of large parking lots all over town...

Chancey suggested a night ride, so I joined in and considered it my training ride.  The goal was 20 miles at 17mph avg.  That avg speed seems pretty doable, until one starts throwing in the West End hills.  Some of those grinders will bring you down to about 6mph.  Hit a few of them back to back and they can very well cripple your attempts to pull along Peacehaven 30 minutes later. 

We rolled counter-clockwise and headed downtown first.  Here's a shot of Chancey pulling along down Country Club Rd.  He's a blur of speed...

The West End suffering over, we climbed Buena Vista Rd. and rocketed over to WFU.  For those who've done this, I think you'll agree that rushing through the trail connecting Reynolda Village to WFU is WAY better at night than in the daytime.

Chancey and I traded pulls on Polo and back to Peacehaven.  We took a second to rest, and I caught Chancey looking like he had a hemoglobin of 8.  That's just the flash on the crackberry.

Here I realized that we were not at goal for avg speed...if you can't make out the avg on the speedo, it says 16.8.

Given this dire news, we cranked it down Peacehaven to Country Club where Sir-Chance-a-lot and I parted ways.  It was a good ride with a good buddy.   My legs were definitely burning on the way home.

Here are the stats:

Route:  City Loop Counterclockwise (climbs:  Miller, First, West End, Buena Vista)
Time:  1:37.14
Dist:  28.2mi
Avg:  17.4mph

Next up, a yet-to-be determined Saturday route, but if Northstar gets with it - we might be heading off-road on a 40 mile killer ride.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bike maintenance and a ride.

Last Saturday, I rode the Cerv a few miles across the land of Walt Disney to watch Coach finish up her first half-marathon.  Read about it here.  The Cerv already needed a cleaning, so I figured one little sprint in the rain / sleet wouldn't hurt, since I'd clean the bike when we returned to NC.  Well, that day was today.

I first removed all the victimized moving parts (here I'm halfway done) and put them through my unusually secret process for cleaning. 

This involves a few methods I usually keep quiet, but will share with you loyal blog readers now.  Here's how the workdesk looks as I go through The Process:


The special ingredients are the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (milk chocolate, but you can sub in some mint chocolate if you wish) and Egg Nog (in a plastic cup).  Not shown is the critical spaceheater - this shop is NOT very weather-proof.

After downing the aforementioned goodies, I pretty much use a bio-degreaser, occasional alcohol (for cleaning, not drinking) and some Pro-Link chain lube.  I am fascinated by Pro-Link.  The stuff removes dirt and old grease as well as any dedicated degreaser I've used. 

After removing sand (it was Florida) and other gunk from the Cerv, we went for a spin.  30 miles with the goal of 20mph average.  You can imagine how this went, knowing my nutritional intake from above.  Truthfully, I felt more comfortable and in-rhythm than on the previous 30 mile rides.  The hills were not AS bad and my cadence is improving.  The stats tell a tale similar to previous rides, but I chose a more challenging course this time and left my tire pressure lower than usual (since I'll probably lower pressure a bit for the Battenkill).  OK, honestly I forgot to give the tires some air and came up with this excuse much later. 

Check out the new feature this week:  Route.


Route:  5 Points straight out to Lewisville, Vineyard Loop, then back Shallowford --> Country Club to 5 points. 
Time:  1:36.31
Dist:   30.55mi
Avg:  19.1mph

Up next, a slower, shorter ride on Thursday night.  Anyone wanna come along? 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Time to ride again.

Tomorrow brings a return to the training schedule.  Although I did manage to ride about 7 miles on Saturday morning (from the hotel to Epcot Center, in the rain and 33 degree weather, I might add), I have been off the bike for seven days.  I'm a little nervous to experience the post-vacation-attempt at riding fast.  I'll surely be eating my Wheaties in the morning.

The plan is for 30 miles at 20mph average.  I can't deny that I'm dreading another 30 mile solo effort, though I know it's the way to go.  Not-so-secretly, I am looking forward to next week's adventures at Salem Lake.  Off-road, here we come.  Perhaps Barry and I will hit the gravel near his house soon, but now that he's rolling some new carbon dish wheels, he might want to keep his bike squeaky clean.

Until tomorrow...