Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sugar, we're going down...

I had the above mentioned Fall Out Boy song in my head all day, as it was on the radio whilst I was putting on the Cerv's new shoes this morning:

After way-too-much research, I landed on the Continental Ultra Gatorskin tire, in size 23.  After closely inspecting my old rear tire (following last week's puncture) I found a significant tear in the sidewall, so some new rubber was in order.  I've had a pair of gators before, as tubies when I used to roll the HED Stinger 60's.  They were flawless, but alas that set-up was sold to make way for (read: make possible) the Cervelo.  

Mini-review:  Compared to other tires I've used, these felt fast but more harsh.  They offered good control and grip.  Admittedly, I didn't lean on 'em too hard.  I'll try to take them off-road next week and see how it goes.

On to the ride:  First up, I shorted it today.  Coach had a 45-miler on the calendar and I simply didn't check that before I headed out.  Oops.  I aimed for 40 miles at 20mph pace, and nearly got it.  19.8 miles per hour over 41 miles.    From a RPE standpoint, I FELT much better today despite the higher speed.   Confidence is improving.  No worries, the Tour of the Battenkill still scares the crap out of me (in a good way). 

Our original group of 8 split up a bit (different goals for different season plans), so our groupetto of 4 hit the rolling hills of Wyo Rd. with the goal of keeping it pretty warm/hot.  It was easily one of the fastest trips I've taken up and down the often painful Wyo.  I can't take full credit as Barry, Rip, and Whit cranked it with me.  Once back on Courtney-Huntsville, we opted for the well-worn Fish Brandon --> Old Stage route, with a big bump at Powerline Hill.  Fish Brandon was very interesting today, as recent rains and farm tractors had dragged a good amount of mud (and who knows what else) all over the road.  I think I still have some in my teeth.  About 3/4 of the way down Old Stage, I was struck with the idea to try some intervals (read: attack).  Sitting at the back of the small group, I had a good position but knew there was a headwind.  I waited for a slight downhill and hit the gas. 

The plan was to keep ahead of the group for just a few minutes, but after about 10 seconds of afterburners I took a look over my shoulder.  Whit.  He hopped on me like a leech and could not be removed.  After about 20-30 seconds more (time is fuzzy when putting in a big dig) I tried to shake him and he finally went around.  Unfortunately for me, Whit can roll on the flats like a train.  I tried to grab his wheel but his acceleration around me was too much.  It took another mile to get back to him, and I'm sure he was waiting.  Go Whit.

As we regouped at the top of Powerline Hill, we noticed a group of svelte-looking cyclists coming from the west.  Sure enough, they were our long-lost CLM compatriots from earlier in the day.  We tagged along and rolled steady back to Lewisville.  Barry and I kept it in high gear going back to the old shop to keep our legs on the edge of cramping as best we could.

As usual, we chatted it up in the old Paceline parking lot for a bit post-ride.  Dr. J dropped by to say hello as well.  He's in the rasta kit.  Scotty, foreground, munches on post-ride 'special' brownies.  That's what he called 'em anyway. 


The shorty-short stats:
Dist:  40.5mi
Time:  2:01.52
Avg:  19.8mph

Next up:  Night-time City Loop on Tuesday night.  20 miles at 18mph.  Who's in?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The weather today was just nasty.  Not just cold, not just wet, but wet and cold.  At sunset, a light rain and 32 degrees meant that riding was not just hard to imagine, it was ill-advised.  Going out would be beyond "epic" and more likely "stupid."  So, I sucked it up and pulled the dusty trainer out of the closet and set up for a Zone 3 steady state 60-minute workout.  Really, I'd hoped to go all the way to April without a day on the trainer, but I know it's good for me. 

That's all, just wanted to complain about the trainer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


With all the other cool posts on friends' blogs today, I want to give them a quick shout.  Check out Barry and the CLM blog.  Fun stuff. 

Tonight I was scheduled to do a 25 mile night ride, then ride 14 miles (2 laps) at Salem Lake on Thursday night.  Well, weather was looking iffy for Thursday (Salem Lake + rain = mud) so I modified my plans and rode from the house to Salem Lake, did a lap, and came home.  This totalled around 19 miles, which is actually a little less than I expected. 

There is a virtually flat Greenway that connects Old Salem to Salem Lake, so I rolled quickly to the dirt and gravel path that surrounds the lake.  First obstacle, however, was the creek.  Usually tame and to be found resting under the low concrete bridges, I had to roll through 4-6 inches of water at three crossings due to recent rains.  Shoulda known!  

Once on the trail, I got a feel for how to pedal and handle the road bike through turns, in and out of the saddle, and around others (poor, poor pedestrians) at speed.  Where the path was dry, speeds of 19-21 mph were very doable, but as I crossed to the low side of the lake, the ground was wet and muddy in places. 

There are upsides to slowing down, of course:  1).  It gives one a chance to get a heartrate of 175 while going 12 mph, and 2) you may pause to notice this:

Ah, what a view!  Thus inspired, I made the best of the mud and cranked it.  I admit it worked pretty well until, within 2 miles of the end I had to face the harsh reality of riding worn road tires on rocks and dirt:

PSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHhhh....flop flop flop.

Yep, a flat.  Luckily, I brough a spare so I changed it up and kept rolling.  It was getting pretty dark by this time so I fired up the light and put my head down.  Time to go home.

There is a strange sense of emerging from the wilderness when riding from Salem Lake back through downtown Winston-Salem at twilight.  After spending nearly an hour in solitude, I popped out of the Greenway and on to Main Street, filled with cars of folks speeding home after work.  I smiled to myself, with my mud-splattered bike, spare tire in action, and soaked shoes. 

I was excited to see how trashed the bike was.  I feel a trip to the bike shop for some BB and bearing work coming soon...
Next up...hmmm, not sure.  Might be rained out on Thursday, but I don't mind a little rain...we'll see.

Almost forgot.  The Stats:

Route:  HM (our house on Horace Mann Ave) to Glade St --> 4th --> Main Street to Old Salem Greenway.  One lap of Salem Lake then return by the same route.
Dist:  18.05mi
Time:  1:04.19
Avg:  16.8mph

Metabolic: I spent 81% of the workout over 150bpm, but this is pretty messy as I think it collected info while I was sitting at stoplights and for some portion of the tire change. 

Monday, January 18, 2010


Coach, Barry, and I headed to the home of WFU football to perform some field tests designed to estimate lactate threshold.  The REAL equiment, found in most exercise science labs, is not cheap - and purveyors of said equipment long ago realized that a nice way to make some spare moolah is to coax aspiring athletes into their hurt lockers for some serious testing...for a price.

Fortunately for us, Coach knows what she's doing (from a book-smart standpoint) and has some experience with this from her days in graduate school at JMU.  The goal:  use a 20-minute field test to estimate our lactate thresholds, thus allowing more specific heart-rate based interval training.

We're doing this now because I've moved out of the "base miles" part of training and into a mixed section designed to increase my anaerobic capacity as well as my aerobic base.  In basic terms, the ability to motor at a moderate pace and then sprint for 2 minutes are not exactly extensions of the same training:  one has to be specific to develop specific skills and tolerances.

Thus planned, Barry and I rode to Groves Stadium for a warm-up then test-rode the course.  Apart from a wet corner on the low end and an acute turn at the top, it was pretty much a good shot at going wide open.  The goal, according to Coach, was to go as hard as possible, but at a pace that could be sustained for 20 minutes.  I knew chances were good I'd overshoot or undershoot at times and have to correct, but the 20 minute length of the trial would control that variable. 

According to formulas (reviewed since the event), all was predicted.  For the first 5 minutes I felt smooth and stable, followed by a wave of muscle fatigue at around 7 minutes.  I backed off just a hair, and returned to a painful, but tolerable state until about the 16 minute mark, when I then had to concentrate quite a bit more to hold my effort at the required level.   I noticed my speed falling off by about 1mph on the slightly inclined section, and a decrease of similar amount into the downhill headwind.  Here I am taking the low, wet corner and heading up the slight incline.

All in all, I think I probably undershot the effort just a bit because I wasn't completely wiped out at the end.  That is probably due to recent rides in the 2-3 hour range, and it's been a long time since my last criterium (usually 30-45 minutes).   That is to say, I've forgotten how to pin it for 20 minutes and 20 minutes only.

Barry and I cooled down, discussed the pain that is a lactate threshold field test, and debriefed with Coach.  This bit of work will probably result in modifications to my training schedule, now that we know how to set up training zones and interval efforts. 

I previously planned to do an off-road ride on Thursday night, but weather is looking iffy, so I might up the schedule and hit Salem Lake tomorrow night and a rainy road ride on Thursday night.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Auto Recon of Gravel Training Section #1.

Link to Facebook Video (I had to host it somewhere)

As above, Coach and I headed out on a rest day to recon some potential gravel road training sections...and we hit paydirt. 

There is actually quite a bit more than seen here, but to see that you'll need to come with me on a ride...