Sunday, September 26, 2010


After a good run on Blogspot, I've decided to move this little shindig over to a new blog site over on Wordpress. Check it out and subscribe to that site instead!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Training, riding, racing.

And so it goes. About 10 days until the CX @ Brewery Ommegang. At this point, I'm expecting dry, dusty and (since it's been nearly 85 degrees here as of late) warm weather. That would actually be ok with me, since I really don't care much for cold weather riding, but I suppose since I'm pre-registered, I have to HTFU anyway.

Strangely, since I've only got 10 days left, any significant training will be lost on me now. Time to rely on the engine that has been developed (and mildly neglected as of late) over the past 6 months. One more longer, fast ride is on the books for early this Saturday morning, both to shock the legs into some longer, harder efforts and to shock my system into riding in the cooler morning weather. That will top up the aerobic engine, so my 'cross skills will be the only thing I'm really nervous about, since the more oxygen debt I get into, the worse they become. And everyone knows that 'cross is ALL about suffering above the red line.

Today I had the day off, so I did something I haven't done for a long time: go for a ride just for fun. No goals, no intervals to do, just plain old riding for the fun of riding. I don't think I even checked the average speed of the ride. I was able to enjoy the emerging fire of the fall leaves, the whistle of the wind through my Oakleys and the muted vibration of the pock marked road under my tires. It was magnificent.

So, while 'cross racing may be the order of the month, there will certainly be a relief to have no training to worry about, no numbers to hit, and many more carefree miles of road to eat up on those leisurely rides. Ah yes, and so it goes, and so do I.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training daze, oh training daze.

The days are growing shorter, the air is growing colder, and the season is winding down. Yeah, right.

I just finally registered for my first 'cross race (CX @ Brewery Ommegang) and that means I'd better whip my butt back into shape. You see, since I've had a few things going on this summer (like a wedding, work being turned upside down, and of course the horrifically oppressive heat and humidity) I've been relying on my early season form and conditioning to carry me through. Of course, looking at my Sporttracks info recently reminded me that I've been a horrible slacker, and I've really needed to kick it up a notch. This means the traditional teeth gritting, leg crushing interval workouts, ridiculous climbing workouts and stupid hard time trial efforts. All that is interspersed with occasional recovery rides and the search for new, interesting roads to ride to keep the training from getting stale.

The past weekend involved a recovery ride to get breakfast on Friday morning (it was bloody COLD) and then a big climbing day Saturday (can we say steep hills?) followed by some short 'cross skill drills today. I've also bolted a 38 tooth inner chainring on my Foxtrot, which should give me just a bit of extra breathing room considering those heavy/solid Ksyrium wheels shod in huge, knobby tires.

So after reflecting on the past week of training, what has come to my attention? I need to toughen up a little bit more mentally, which I'm working on. My running mount-ups need a little work too (dismounts and hopping barriers is a perfect two step at this point, but it takes about 4 steps to re-mount.) My sharp accelerations are pretty good, and my endurance and pacing is pretty good.

So...three weeks to go. That means about 2 more weeks of hard training and then about a week of taper time. All the while I'll still be watching the days get shorter and the air getting colder. Ah well, I guess the season has to wind down sometime.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Of beer and ('cross) bikes...

The Labor Day weekend has been fantastic (so far anyway.) Since September actually heeded my previous request and has returned, bringing with it milder temperatures and a lack of humidity, it has been prime riding and training weather.

After spending quite a while rebuilding and tweaking my 'cross bike for the upcoming season, I've got this to work with:

Origin 8 Foxtrot frame (7005 butted aluminum with carbon rear triangle and full carbon fork)
Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels
Bontrager Jones CX tires
SRAM Force shifters
SRAM Rival front derailleur
SRAM Rival rear derailleur
Shimano 105 12-25 cassette
Shimano Ultegra 39/46 crankset
Wipperman ConneX chain
Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes
Selle Italia Octavia saddle
Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals
FSA Stem and bars, Bontrager post, Fi:zik DualTape wrap

This should serve me well enough in the coming season, especially considering this will be my first season racing cyclocross. As a benchmark, and as a way to shake out the tweaks in the bike, I planned a 22ish mile route that included 3 laps of a 2.8 mile circuit which was 75% dirt, gravel and oil and loose stone. Each lap included about 230 feet of elevation gain to test the legs, and plenty of curves and corners to challenge the handling skills. The ONLY thing that the route didn't have were dismounts, barrier crossings and remounts. Those were practiced before we set out upon the ride.

Of course, one particularly botched dismount involved the bike tipping over opposite the side I was dismounting on, causing me to end up tripping over the fallen machine and sprawling out on the lawn. In the process, I was busy rolling my right ankle and covering myself with bruises. Awesome, I look like a battered housewife, and I only have my own "skills" to thank.

Fortunately, after a pretty decent ride (even with a sore ankle) I finally got to tear into one of these:

Home brewed Belgian Double. Not too bad, but it could still use a few more weeks of "cave aging", which has become my new term for aging beer in the rough hewn rock and mortar cave I call a basement or cellar.


Rest day, how I love thee.'s nice and sunny, only 72 degrees, and I could head out on the road bike for a recovery ride...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to September.

Hi, I'm the month of September, and I've decided that fall weather is a bunch of malarky and I'm inviting summer back for a repeat visit. I've given you 6 days of nice seasonal weather, and that's more than enough. Suffer with 93 degree heat and excessive humidity. HAHAHAHAHA!

Yes, it's horrendously warm again here in the northeast, so that means sitting inside and relaxing with the Vuelta a Espana and a cup of french press coffee (not that there's anything wrong with that.) It also means that riding is going to be cut relatively short and be limited to the early morning and late evening hours. The one bonus of the extremely hot weather is that I'll be sweating out a couple of extra pounds to put me right into competitive racing weight.

There's a fair number of races coming up in the next couple months (and hopefully the weather isn't going to be quite THIS warm in October) and they should be quite a bit of fun. The tough part is going to be training for cross season, as my motivation at this point in the season has been flagging badly. I need some motivation to get out and get riding, but the heat, the long riding season, and all the things I've had to do in the past 8 months have really put a lot of wear on both the body and mind.

It will pass though, hopefully when fall decides he's done being lazy and sends summer back on vacation.