Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle...bollocks.

Snow. Snow snow snow SNOW! I'm sick of the snow.

12 inches of the white powdery stuff makes it nigh on impossible to plan for a new year's ride (although my typical schtick of crashing and hurting myself would be significantly damped by a mantle of white padding) and pretty much restricts life to the trainer. Blargh. Although, there are some reasons to consider the trainer at this point in the year:

1: I've GOT to get rid of some excess holiday inches. I'd like to really cut the fat this year, so to speak. Since I'll be starting my job somewhere in the middle of January, I'll have to really make the most of the little bit of training time I'll have.

2: I need to relieve some stress, and that's a pretty solid way to do it.

3: May marks the return of the William's Lake mountain bike race. Not that I'm even expecting to come close to winning it, but I'd love to at least be in somewhat good shape at that point in the year.

4: What the hell else will I do with all this time off?

So that's about the half of it. Work, moving (we did finally find a house to move into, and it's a beauty) and the eternal struggle to pedal. What a life, eh?

Oh, and yes. The photos on the best of the year post are awful. Next time, I'll make sure to hunt for .jpgs instead of .gifs. Pieces of junk...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The best gear of the year...

(or, what to stick in your bike lover's stocking?)

So, as an editor of Mountain Bike Tales (mountainbiketales.com) I get a lot of opportunity to see the best and the worst of products out there. So, being the holidays, it's time to come up with a couple things that I would classify as standout performers in 2008. Without further ado:

Best of season, 2008:
SRAM X.0 Drivetrain (Front and rear shifters, rear derailleur - ~$450)

Again, it comes down to the most important parts of the bike to fill in my best of the season slot. I'll be accused of being a fan boy, and that may be. I've been there with Shimano's drivetrain parts, but the simple fact remains that they are more labor intensive than SRAM's gear. Shimano even copied the SRAM design when they introduced the Shadow derailleur, so that has to say something, right?

Why do I perennially pick SRAM drivetrain parts as my best of the season? Because they just don't fail me. I've racked up a lot of miles on those parts this season, and they've taken a load of abuse (crashes are a way of life for me, and all these east coast hazards don't help any) through they year and still just keep on ticking. There's something grossly satisfying about not having to replace parts every season, and never having shifting problems. Best...of...season. Period.

Most underappreciated item of 2008:
Jagwire RipCord derailleur cable kit (multiple colours ~$30)

Me. No, really. Me. Or cables. Yeah, that's it. Nobody thinks cables are such a big deal, but when something comes along that keeps your shifting smooth for a full year without being touched, then it's something worth mentioning. Sure, cables do need replacing, but only just. Dirt, grime and crap just DON'T get into the Jagwire sealed systems, which is awesome for us east coast riders. For the $30 spent, not only does my bike look kick-ass, it now shifts perfect in every condition I can imagine.

Most frivolous but cool bike part in general for 2008:
Spank Lock On Grips (Chocolate, White or Black, ~$25)

Yeah, there's only so much to say about something like a pair of grips. (In this case) they're mocha/chocolate in colour, they have gold clamps, and they stay locked down on the bar through the most gruesome conditions. What more can you ask, except for a pair in your stocking?

Best "technogeek approved" item of 2008:
Garmin Edge 305 with Heart Rate Monitor and Cadence Sensor (~$275)

Who doesn't like to know their heart rate, cadence, average grade, current speed, lap speed, and even sunset time with a glance at their handlebars? Well, the old coots that rode with toe clips and straps may not approve, but those of us who know where the 'on' button is on the front of a PC will love this. Pair this gizmo with Sport Tracks training software and you're set to get a wealth of very usable information that will keep your training right on track throughout the season. It's amazingly handy to have a breadcrumb trail map (for full GPS navigation, consider the 705, but double the price, at least) should you get lost and need to return to square one. It's probably one of the most expensive bike computers out there, but to the right person, it's worth it's weight in gold.

Best "My Ass Doesn't Hurt" gear of 2008:
Tossup: AssMaster Chamois Cream and Gore Bike Wear Contest Shorts (~$10 and ~$85)

The AssMaster goes on your ass, and the Contest shorts pad that oiled rear end. Gore's shorts come in the bib and shorts variety (I prefer the bibs) and have an amazingly non-intrusive chamois. It doesn't feel like you're wearing a diaper and it provides cushioning in just the right places to keep you comfy over multiple hours in the saddle. And with a price under $100, you can't really go wrong. Unless of course, you prefer the baggy look to the roadie-weenie lycra look. In that case, buy them anyway and put baggies over them. You'll love me for it.

Best Safety Gear of 2008:
Uvex XP100 helmet (~$95)

With so many vents, it's cooler than a lot of road helmets and has the full coverage of a skate helmet. It's stupidly light and has a nifty-as-all-hell buckle/release system that I just love. Thankfully, I've not had to test its crash durability, but I can say for a fact that this baby is comfy and reassuring like an young lady's bed on a cold night. If you're a drunk college kid anyway...

"Most confusing parts catalog on the planet" of 2008:

Really...what the hell? How many axle assemblies can you really HAVE? And how many times do you have to send me the wrong one before I find the correct model? Really...what the hell...

Well, that's it for another year. What can I say? It's been fun, it's been a wonderful ride, and now it's a ride that goes nowhere with the emergence of the trainer (who wants to ride in snow?) That being said, keep the rubber side down, and we'll see how these things shape up for 2009.

It was the best of the year, it was the worst of the year...

Well, it's almost that time again...

The worst of the year? Well, it has to be the significant down-turn in the economy that has put the squeeze on the wallet and everyone's spirits. 10-20% increases in all things bike related are definitely a killer, but what can you do? Luckily, there hasn't been any major breakages of anything horribly expensive since the downturn. Thankfully.

The best of the year? I've finally managed to get myself out of school and have my doctorate hanging on my wall. How nice is that?

Ok, so what does this post have to do with cycling of any kind? Nothing really, but I'll say that after treating a number of cyclists through my clinic experiences, it's definitely changed my view of things. It's so nice to be able to be relatively pain free and able to ride when I get the itch. There's so many of us out there that jsut have so much trouble doing what we love, riding a bike, that it makes me glad I'm able to put cleats to pedals and move forward. Cheers to that.

Coming soon, my picks of best gear of the year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome to December...

So it's been more than a month since my last update. Let me explain why...

I don't usually talk much about my personal life here, but this time I think it's relevant. I've spent the last 3.3333 (ad nauseum) years in a frozen wasteland known as Seneca Falls, NY. I've been spending most of my time attending New York Chiropractic College, working towards a doctorate degree. As of 11/24, I officially finished up and graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic. All the final things I needed to do, job interviews, resume work, etc etc are all behind me. Now I need to seal the deal on a position and then I'll be set to move and start a new phase in life.

That being said, I've been doing little riding lately. I seem to have some kind of cold induced asthma (which can only be diagnosed after a ride in the cold, which it WON'T go down below 30 degrees here for me to do that) that has limited me outside. I've been riding the trainer while watching Giro d'Italia reels on cycling.tv, but that can only do so much.

Maybe some cross training. Yeah, that's it.

I'll be back later with my thoughts on the best gizmos of the year, for all you Mountain Bike Tales readers.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And so it goes...

No, it's not just the title of a great Billy Joel song, one that extols the sadness of never letting yourself be heard (although sometimes mother nature forces that situation upon you), but it's also a simile for the march of time.

The past few weeks here in the northeast have been ultra-prime. Riding has been fantastic to say the least. With the fall leaf season, the soil has dried enough to become tacky and sticky, but not tire cloggingly thick, trails have been worn through piles of fallen leaves which now hide insidious roots, and a chill in the air forces the use of base layers, arm warmers, thermal gloves and long sleeved jerseys. Of course, the top of the first grinding climb is the place where everyone stops, strips and packs away their heavy layers before they start sweating too hard.

Yes indeed, fall is my favorite time to ride in these parts. While there is a hankering to get back to your favorite spots in the spring and see if you can still hit that kicker, ride that skinny or clear that rock garden, there's something absolutely magical about riding in the fall. The crunch of fallen leaves under the knobs of thick rubber, the brisk chill in the air that burns your lungs, stings your face and forces you to hammer just to keep warm, and the wonderful feeling of a season winding down, with no races or cares in the world is a nearly indescribable pleasure that's all too often unrealized until the fall ends.

In the northeast, we've suffered our first "nor'easter" of the season. Yes, that damnable word that brings chills to my very soul, the harbinger of winter, has slashed it's mark upon the fall season. Torrential rains, sticky, heavy, wet snow and gusting winds will quickly damp even the most dedicated fat-tired spirits. True, the snow won't linger and sunny skies follow a day behind, but there is a certain doom and gloom that follows the first storm of the year. Is it time to pull out the trainer? Is it time to send the bikes to their winter homes in the garage? That may well be the case, it may well not. Riding in the snow is great fun, if a little bit taxing on the body, and the easy access to studded tires makes light years of difference.

There is one positive thing about the winter's imminent arrival, though. Time to tear down the trusty steed, clean out the muck, lube everything up and shine it to a mirror finish, all in preparation of its next outing. When will that be? Who knows, but at least it'll be ready. And so...it goes...

Monday, September 22, 2008

What a long time...

...since my last posting.

Things have been busy since then. The road bike season has pretty much wound down. We rode our metric century, made it through most of it. The problem was all the riding was done in 80 degrees with 100% humidity, which made it very, very tough indeed. Besides, it came a little late in the season and I was of course a little undertrained for it, but it was still fun regardless.

That being said, it's now mountain bike season again. Ahh, I love riding in the fall. The fallen leaves, the crisp air, it's all so pleasant to be a part of. There's something to be said for coming back to fat tires in the fall. The mud is at a minimum, the trails are well ridden in, fast and thrilling, and the lungs and legs really enjoy the change of pace from the grueling constant effort of riding the road.

I have to say I'm really looking forward to getting some saddle time on my King and my Dawg. Hopefully my technical skills will make a quick comeback and I'll be able to put all the road training to use on the dirt.

Photos (hopefully) coming soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Has it really...

...been almost 3 weeks since my last update?

Well, yes. I've been terribly busy as of late. Unfortunately, I'm not doing as much riding as I am working, but I've been getting my fair share of time on two wheels. I've been spending more time on the road bike than on the mountain bike, mainly preparing for the end of season metric century that we have planned. Not only is it going to be a long day in the saddle, there's going to be more than a mile of vertical on the route. That's going to be tough, but there's a nice BBQ and bottle of wine waiting at the end of the ride.

Oh well, it's time well spent.

Back to my pizza, beer and movie.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kingdom Trails adventure. Vacation is always a good thing.

So. Beth and I decided that work sucks and time off is needed (although she can't complain after coming back from 2 weeks in grand old Italia) to clear our heads. We booked a room at the Village Inn right there in the middle of East Burke and headed up last weekend. Yeah, I'm a slacker and haven't put pictures up yet, but that's the zen of me. Pfft.

Our balcony was just freakin' AWESOME. Yes, we had our own private balcony with Adirondack chairs and a bistro table. The view off the balcony wasn't too damn bad either.

Tap 'n Die was JUST cut last year when we were there, so we didn't get a shot at riding it. It's pretty f'in cool though.

Of course, I have to have the picture giving the illusion of awesome speed and the classic "Michael Jordan tongue hanging out" sickness:

And who can forget the view from The Inn at Mountain View Farms. It all makes sense now, eh?

Dude, that's a wicked big horse barn.

I wonder who lives in that big mansion on the hill. Surely not the plebeians who's bikes are napping in the shade of that big oak tree.

The sheer WTF-awesomeness of the new legs of Coronary Bypass just possessed my soul and turned me into the daemon of white jerseys and trail wickedness.

Coronary Bypass has nuclear cool berms to rail and mash.

There's also an unwritten obligation that you need to take a photo of all the bikes in your riding party chillin' under a tree at the start of Webs.

Dry Feet my ass. This is about as far from "dry" as you can get. Kingdom had about 6" of rain in the week proceeding our grand arrival, and this quagmire was the result. I'm so pissed I'm stomping a (literal) mudhole in Mother Earth. Unfortunately, the mud won (it was about 8" deep in places.)

More mud pits. There's slop and goop everywhere, and for some reason it smells like horse poop. Ick.

Yet another artsy bike shot, this time from the sick thrill that is Jaw.

And Jaw is just such a mother trucker, it throws some wicked fun at you. This looks like this could go badly...

Dude, I'm so hardcore I can not only go over the bars, but I can have photographic proof. Actually, this one isn't all that embarrassing in its complete awesomeness.

More awesomeness that is Jaw. Those rocks are slippery like a soggy dishrag on a freshly waxed marble floor.

More of those tire eating wet rocks. Whose idea was it to run a trail across a drainage ditch?

Oh, the drop in isn't so bad, but the step-up out of the place can be a real bitch, can't it?

Nothing like the smell of soggy pine needles, fresh pitch, and the squeak of a loose cleat while you're struggling mightily to unclip from stubborn pedals.

After all that fun, we played around in the stream behind East Burke Sports. It was ICE F'IN COLD!

Wash away your pain, wash away the mud. Or you could just numb every part that touches the water and forget that said parts exist.

The horse-poop-mud-slop always wins in the end. It also does a great job of annihilating a clean bathroom.

Badda-f'in-BING! This actually happened the night we got there, but why not close up with it.

All in all, who could ask for a better vacation. It could have been a lot longer, but who's counting?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Countdown to vacation:

Awesome. Only 2 days and counting until vacation in Vermont. It'll be a much needed rest and some very necessary downtime.

Planning to get away for a vacation is the hardest part of going on vacation. Trying to figure out what to bring, what to leave at home, what spare parts to throw in the toolbox and what to leave home, and all the nagging little things. Add to the mix having to take bikes with you, worry about maintenance while you're there and away from your comfy workstand and workbench. Ah well, such is vacation, which is supposed to be relaxing.

Riding wise, things are going good. I'm inching closer to a 25 minute 10 mile TT pace and my average power is going up slowly but surely.

I think I've decided that instead of replacing that $240 Dura Ace front shifter, I'll treat myself to a drivetrain makeover, move to 10 speed and move to SRAM. Good stuff. Now to price it all out...

Anyway, with the long rest of the week ahead, I may not be posting until home from vacation, but that will be fun and photo filled. I hope.

Friday, July 18, 2008


So in the past two weeks, I've been an expensive annihilator of all things, bike related or not.

Broken tooth - $280 (including gas to drive to have it fixed)
Destroyed front Dura Ace Shifter - $240 (Forget it, not for 9 speed. SRAM anyone?)
Sticking piston on my Formula K24 front disc brake on my trail bike ($46 for parts, plus about 4 hours of sheer agony of trying to rebuild it. Or pay a shop to do it for about $150)

Good. Now that that's out of the way...

Riding has been good lately. My endurance at this point in the season is very good, which I'm extremely happy about. I feel like I can hack pretty much anything out on my radar at this point in the season, so that's good.

Now if I could only get rid of the awful tan lines...

Next weekend I'm off to Vermont for a couple days to do some riding. Nothing beats a vacation I don't think. I'm certainly looking forward to it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another good weekend...

So it was an excellent weekend.

Lots of riding, a good amount of climbing. Power figures aren't as good as they should be, but then again, I wasn't pegging it the entire ride either. Oh well.

Currently, it is so bloody humid that it even sucks to wear clothing. That's a horrifying thought, I know, but it's really not too conducive to riding. Maybe tomorrow when it cools off a little bit. Here's hoping.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I now know the meaning of true pain...

It's been a busy week in the cycling world for me, and for that I'm happy.

I picked up a new saddle to replace the old piece of junk I had been using. So now I'm resting my ass on a Selle Italia....something or another. It's comfy, that's all I know, and it doesn't make my dumper hurt. That's very excellent.

In the riding department, I've been out 4 days this week, and for some bizarre reason, I never just do an easy or moderate ride and toss in a hard spot. I've been doing hard, suprathreshhold rides almost every day. My average power is jumping up now as well; I guess I was just being lazy early in the season. Today, though, taught me what it means to bonk and what pain really is.

I'll start off by saying that it's been deceptively warm and humid here the past couple of days. Mid 80s and humidity makes things feel more like mid 90s. And the sun...let me tell you about the new arm warmers I have. Nope, I didn't buy them, I happened to have them burned onto me by the sun. And I have glove tan along with it...

I digress.

I've included the training track from my Edge 305 (yellow line is grade, green is elevation profile). Today I decided I should ride the middle third of the metric century I have planned for September. I even asked about it at the LBS yesterday. When he commented that the terrain really is no joke, I told him it "shouldn't be any issue." I've now learned to fear when a LBS guy chuckles at your comment about "easy."

First off, it was bloody hot out there. And if you look at that elevation profile, there's a climb (it would be about 18 miles into the metric) almost right out of the gate of about 2 miles at 10% grade. That's mean. It's also an oil and gravel road, which is even meaner. So after suffering through that without a really good warmup, I hit a couple more climbs, extended of course, at around 7%. Not terrible, but taxing on the legs, especially when it's so damn hot and even the Elete drops in my water aren't helping. Oh yes, I did feel a little crampy in the legs for the first part, but it subsided when I came off the first large hill.

The second climb was nothing to write home about; about 2 miles with an average grade around 8.5%. Like I said, a nice grind, but nothing too terrible.

Coming off the second climb throws you down by the lake at about 44 MPH. Talk about a beautiful view, the view is just stunning. Canandaigua Lake has some great lookout points around it and I was enjoying the scenery, riding down a nice flat road right next to the lake. Some of the houses are just amazing down there, and I even passed a catered chicken barbecue party. I tell ya...

Unfortunately the fun had to end. I sort of didn't believe what the LBS guy told me about the grade of the climb out, and when I rounded a corner and saw this behemoth, I had to reassess my sanity. Max grade of about 24%, running average of about 17% over just a hair under a mile. About 3/4 of the way up my quads cramped up terribly and I had to stop and stretch them out, but my god what a climb.

Funny though...
The people out there are so incredibly nice. About half way up, someone was driving up behind me and there was a woman leaning out the window and clapping, yelling "Only a little more, keep it up!" And as I came around a steep hairpin I popped out of the saddle and almost ran into a group of 2 guys and 2 women, all dressed in polos, khakis and sundresses. Here I am, swearing to myself, jersey completely open and flapping in the breeze, literally pouring sweat, snot and drool off myself, and they all stopped, clapped and yelled encouragement. "Keep it up! One more steep part until the top! You can make it!" It's nice to hear that kind of encouragement from people you don't know and who will likely never see you again. What a change from the rednecks around here who yell "nice shorts, faggot" out the window of their gas sucking Ford F350. To be fair, I've only had 2 of those experiences in the 3 years I've been here, so I take it with a grain of salt and a "Il pozzo vaffunculo!" Sometimes I think I'm trying to learn Italian just to insult people with it. But hey, it works.

As I said, I blew up about 3/4 of the way to the top. Holy gods, now I know what it's like to crack on a climb. There's NOTHING left. Whether it's from cramping or just true bonking, it SUCKS.

So, that is the torture that is Bopple Hill. I'll go back, and sometime, I'll conquer it.

And what did I learn today?
- I can stay out of the saddle for a long time without skyrocketing the heart rate too much.
- It's nearly impossible to grind out a 20% grade in the saddle.
- 4 bottles of fluid was not nearly enough for a ride in this heat.
- 3 energy gels was not nearly enough either

On the way home I stopped and bought a ham and swiss on whole wheat from Tim Horton's. That was perhaps the most satisfying sandwich I've ever eaten.

Oh, and I offered to help some woman on a Specialized change a tube. Although she declined, my kharma has been improved.

Totals for the day:
23.02 miles
1:42 total time
13.5 MPH average speed (good considering the climbs)
42.9 MPH max speed (new personal record)
164 BPM average HR
2096 feet of climbing
155.7 Watts of average power (I think this is pretty good considering the bonk and the slow few miles after it occurred)
367.4 Watts max power
2 bottles of Accelerade consumed
2 bottles of Elete water consumed
3 Gu packets consumed
1 Power Bar Nut Naturals consumed
1 Pair of sunburn arm warmers acquired (damnit!)

It's been a good day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The end of another week...

With little to show for it in the riding department.

Long days at work and rain make for no-bike days, at least for me. I'll seriously have to work on that since I've got a 6 hour mountain bike race in August and a 6,000+ climbing metric century in the beginning of September. Sadly, there's something that's really not pleasing me with my riding lately, and that's my power plot. I should be well into the 190s by this point in the season. Peak power is ok, since I'm not a beast sprinter, but I'd really like to have more than 2.5 W/Kg on tap at this point in the season.

I guess I just need to do more interval work...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh what a week(end)

Ahh, so the grip of the Summer Heat Wench has put a stranglehold on riding in the northeast for a few days.

A group trail ride last saturday in the 95 degree heat ended up with a near case of heat illness and a miserable ride. 6.5 miles, all of it absolute suffering.

Sunday night the heat broke, post thunder shower, and we headed out for an 18 mile road spin to reclaim the legs I lost on Saturday. It was really a great feeling, riding on wet roads, up wet switchbacks, with tire spray to cool you off. I could really get used to that.

So, nothing happens until last night. I planned for a longer more mellow ride, but since I got a late start, I ran a 10.5 mile loop that I'll use again in about a month to see where my progress is. 17.8 miles per hour average speed was my reward for keeping the legs on boil the whole way (except for the idiot woman who ALMOST hit me, causing me to come to a dead stop) and a lack of any kind of stiffness or fatigue is my reward today.

This weekend looks like it's going to be nice, so maybe I'll put the climbing legs to the test and see how much pain I can really take. 25 miles (give or take) and around 3,000 vertical feet. Should be fun.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A long weekend

50 miles over and done with. It was excellent to say the least. 3 hours and 21 minutes to finish the 50 mile route with 3072 vertical feet of climbing. I took off on an early break as soon as we hit the hills to wake up the legs and see how I was feeling. I put in about 3 minutes on the group, but they hauled me back in in short order (since I had no interest in staying away, it really wasn't that big of a challenge for them.) When we hit the big hills (about 1800 feet in 3.5 miles, averaging about 8-10% over the distance with some 12-13% spikes) I decided to go and see what I could do. I put 4 minutes into the group and dropped the stragglers from the fast group on the way up. The catch occurred on the way down, and we rode most of the rest of the way as a group. I went again 2.5 miles from the end on the 6% average hills back to the finish and stayed away. I put in about 3 minutes on the group by the end.

It was a good hard challenge and it felt really good to complete it. My descending is getting better, and I just love to climb. I love the pain and suffering of it. I must be sick.

We also went for an 11 mile 1000 vertical foot mountain bike ride over the weekend. My god, after not really riding a lot of mountain bikes the past couple months, it's amazing how much stronger I feel on the mountain bike after spending 2 months hammering out climbs and sprints.

Maybe this means there's a mountain bike race in the cards in two weeks? Hmm....

Friday, May 30, 2008

Moving up on event day.

Ahh yes, only 2 days away from that 50 miler early/mid season goal. For some reason I've got just a touch of jitters about it.

Last weekend was the last "stretch it out" of the early season in preparation for this goal. 35 miles and 2400 vertical feet (I'll point out that the climbing on the route for Sunday is not nearly as tough as what we encountered on the 35 mile training ride - max grades of 20% in some places, although it was beautiful terrain) were an easy enough final ramp up. This week has been a case of taking it nice and easy, just running through my weight routine a little bit to keep everything in shape, and keeping the riding very mellow on the trainer. I think tonight I'll head out on the trail for a shorter more difficult effort to wake up the legs, spend Saturday recovering and then hit it good on Sunday.

Sunday's climbs are looking to be more the extended type: 8-10% grades over 3-4 miles. Just to be sure I've swapped my standard cranks for compact rings, and swapped my aero rear wheel for a conventional, lighter box section type rear wheel. Still running Michelin Pro 3 Race tires, still sticking with the 11-25 cluster on the rear. It should be a pretty easy run up the climbs, so I'm a little bit stoked on that.

After this? Maybe I'll spend more time on the mountain bike for a while. I know there's a 6 hour race in August to train for and a metric (or maybe a full) century in September. Ah hell, let's take this one day at a time: Sunday first, then I'll figure life out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What a week...

So after a great 28 mile training ride last weekend, I haven't seen the bike for a while. Why?

I wandered back from that weekend with a horrific sore throat. I could hardly drink water without wanting to tear my own tonsils out with a pair of kitchen shears. After a quick visit to the doc, it appears that it is some kind of viral tonsilitis, most likely due to the nasty allergy season and my constant post-nasal drip. Glorious. At least he gave me a script for some pills to get be back on track. Finally, I feel more like myself, and I'm itching for tomorrow's 35 mile training ride. I hope I haven't fallen too far back by being completely inactive this week, but I guess we'll soon find out.

I think it's time for a good dinner tonight and a good night's sleep. Both of those will help immeasurably.

Hopefully there will be more nice hairpins out there to ascend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

If it's not one thing, it's another!

So, it was nice out today (about 64 degrees and partly sunny with a little wind) so I decided to go out for a nice easy training ride, despite the fact that I've really felt pretty shitty most of the week. The first problem I encountered was the fact that I didn't really decide to go out until I got home from work and realized that the weather was still being cooperative. That means I haven't really eaten anything since about noon or so when I had lunch (and I decided to jump on the bike at around 4 PM) so I was terribly under-fueled the entire ride. This means I spent a lot of the ride on the verge of cramping up and just feeling pretty crappy in general.

The second problem I ran into came when I tried to pump a little extra air in my front tire since it's been low after not riding for a week. The net result? See below...

For some reason, I don't see that as being normal in any way, shape or form. To add insult to injury, I've got ONE tube that will fit, and it happens to be the spare in my saddle bag. Of course I have plenty of mountain bike tubes and cross tubes. Argh.

In any case, even though I felt pretty crappy on the bike, I still managed 21 miles, upped my MPH by 1.9MPH for this ride and dropped my average HR by 2 BPM. The only problems I had were, surprisingly, climbing. My knees just aren't happy with the height of my saddle, which means it may be time to re-evaluate my entire position on the bike and change a few things.

Sounds like a good project for the weekend.

And speaking of the weekend, it looks like Saturday will be a nice hillclimbing ride to train for our 50 mile Ride The Ridge on 6/1, and Sunday may be a mellow mountain bike ride. It would be nice to get back on my King, really. I mean, I only built it this winter and have....maybe 2 rides on it so far? Ahhh....did I ever say I'm disgusted with the puny mileage I've put in so far this year?

YTD total mileage: 207.64 miles. I've got to work on that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How tough is it to not ride for a week?

Well, it's certainly not easy at all. Personal happenings have prevented me from stashing myself away on the saddle and putting in any decent road miles lately. Well, I've gotten NO miles lately, road or trail. It's really killing me, but still, at least I'm having the time to sit down and do some reading to get my training for the next couple weeks in line.

After the early part of the season I've picked up a Garmin Edge 305 (which I highly recommend, by the way) and I've been spending some time seeing what I can do with that. I'm reasonably sure I've got some values on my lactate threshold, which is really what I need to be training around. I've decided that my focus this year will have to revolve around vertical: I need to work on my climbing, and I've been doing a fair job so far on the road bike. It's certainly tough to do since I live in an area that's nearly as flat as the midwest. It's especially tough when your "hilly" route is only about 600 feet of vertical. I guess I'll have to have those big days on the weekends when I head downstate to ride around New Paltz.

Oh, and since I mention New Paltz, I'll be riding the 50 mile Ride The Ridge charity tour (http://www.ridetheridge.org/) on June 1st. If you're at all around the area, I highly suggest you give it a go. It's going to be a blast.

It looks like I'll be riding my Cannondale CAAD4 for this one, outfitted with Dura Ace shifters, Ultegra derailleurs and cranks and Sram cassette. I think the 39x25 low gearing should be more than fine for the hills we'll be hitting, but I'll know within the next week when we pre-ride the steep part of the route. Here's hoping that climbing and recovery work pays off!