Saturday, January 28, 2012

Secret codes and rationalizations

I'm still trying to follow the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched Cyclist Training Program. I'm doing pretty well. I even managed to get in a set when I was in Morro Bay. But sometimes there are ... issues.

Today I was supposed to do over/under intervals. Carmichael describes them as dividing intervals into sections of 92-94% of your maximum sustainable heart rate with other sections at full-tilt 100% plus.

In the book the description reads:
60-90 min EM with 3x8 min
OU (3U,10) (6 min RBI)

Which was making me crazy. What does that "10" mean? After entirely too long — I mean days —  I finely realized it wasn't "one-zero," it was "one-over." So: Three minutes at 92%, One at "crazy," then repeat. Do that three times. So I did. You can really see the "crazy" parts in the graph.

The graph ends up interesting because the heart rate lags behind the work done, i.e. it takes a moment to ramp up, then a bit to wind down.  That must be why people spend big bucks on power meters.

Is it time to start the rationalization machine? Is a power meter really that expensive, considering how much they do, and how cool they are? And because I don't go to Starbucks and buy a fancy coffee drink every day I'm in effect saving all that money that could go to a device that would only improve my health, making me a happier person, which would benefit every single person I come in contact with.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life and work vs training and goals

morro bay

It's an embarrassment of riches and lack of will power. Here I am at beautiful Morro Bay for a journalism faculty conference. I brought the bike, and it sits unused in the hotel room. What with the rain and the conference I've missed two days of riding. And to make matters worse, they feed us really well.

Last night Tricia and I went out to taste wine and eat cheese on the waterfront. She's lovely, the wine was delightful and cheese was suitably cheesey. But it didn't do anything to make me more ready for the Solvang Double. 

I hope I can get at least a short hard ride in after checkout before the drive home. At least the photos are coming out well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Intervals on the trainer

Today is the first rain we've had in ages. So instead of getting to ride out in the real world, with sky and air and wind and hills, I set up the Kurt Kinetic trainer in the garage.

What a pain-in-the-butt difference. In this world there's riding a bike (fun) and riding the trainer (not so much.) Maybe it's because there is zero coasting, no joyous downhills after a climb, no variation in... much of anything. Whatever, it's not delightful. But as if that isn't enough, it's harder too. Maybe it's that constant no rest thing, but yikes, what a pain. Just doing my 8x3 after my bike commute was more work than a longer ride outside. The only thing that wasn't awful was that the garage was freakin' cold, so I didn't get a soaked as i might have.

I sure hope it pays off, because if it's not helping me get a lot stronger it's a really really really really stupid thing to be doing.

Note to blog readers: I promise not to log every workout I do, it's just that this actual planned effort thing is all new to me, so I'm just full of insights.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Interval interupted

I had to do some tricky scheduling to get in my 3x10 interval work on Tuesday, and it was really cold when I started. But it was all going to work out. Even though I have a hard time convincing myself that it's crucial to hammer hard when it was hard enough riding easy, I was doing it. Interval 1: success Interval 2... Well under way.

Then along comes the cyclist's favorite. A flat. I was annoyed, but it's no big deal I think, until I discover my spare is defective. That's OK too, I have a patch kit. Except the glue is dry. And I'm on the closed-to-cars Empire Mine Road, and a mile and a half from any auto-accessible intersection. In road cleats. And Tricia is a work. And my daughter is in San Francisco.

Fortunately for me, my college colleague Ken answered his cell and was willing to come get me. So I rode on my flat — it felt awful — to the intersection where he picked me up. What a hero!

Of course, he can't understand why I won't put 2 pounds of Kevlar anti-flat bands on my road bike. I just can't understand why I had a bad tube and dry glue.

Now I'm 1.2 repeats behind, and the rain is coming. I sure hope Thursday works out better, even it's on the trainer.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Breezing through the Delta

Bikeforums Delta ride_bridge

I fought the wind and the wind won
I fought the wind and the wind won
I needed legs and I had none
I fought the wind and the wind won
I fought the wind and it's no fun

When Tricia and I were invited to go on a slow jaunt through the Delta with a few of the  much-feared members of NorCal division, it sounded great. Heck, there was even a full on lunch stop near Walnut Grove.  Saturday had been perfect weather, so how different could Sunday be?

Have you ever heard of the "Delta Breeze?"

Bikeforums Delta ride_scoutsWe met at Brannon Island at 9:30. After the usual complaining about the cold and wind we headed out, we being Tricia and "da boys" — Mark, Steve, Daniel, John, Rich, Georges, and me. Despite the wind, we had an easy ride toward Giusti's near Walnut Grove, where we could have had a few stiff drinks to strengthen our resolve, or opt for lunch instead. We rattled on toward our lunch stop, enjoying roads with names like Race Track Road, where Dan had us take a wrong turn cleverly led us up onto a levee so we could see the migrating bird flocks and somewhat rare sandhill cranes.

After lunch we took a ferry over to Ryer Island, which we circumnavigated in increasing wind (14-28mph, with higher gusts according to the weather folks), giving us a chance to test our 11mph echelon skills and generally beat ourselves senseless. At least there was a brief moment of pure tail wind that let us hit 30 plus for entirely too short a time.

For an amazingly flat ride  there were a few hilarious "hills" where the farmland roads rise up to join the levee roads. They look like walls, but they're short. I think most were contested in an attempt to claim the days KOM points.

What with doing intervals into the wind and a couple of fun sprints I was toast, so of course I took a wrong turn and added almost 10 miles to my route. Oh well.

Total damage: 68 miles.

Bikeforums Delta ride_crew on ferry
Photo by our delightful full-service ferry pilot.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Intervals: my first time

Interval arm writing v2
I used a red pen to write my intervals on my arm.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Bene Gesserit litany against fear
I was so worried I'd forget what I was supposed to do that I wrote a reminder on my arm — 4 times for 6 minutes at 92 percent of my maximum sustained heart rate. I warmed up a long time because I was still a bit tired from yesterday's ride over Pig Farm, up the Bears and back through LanceOldStrong's secret Walnut Creek climb. But eventually I got to the road I'd decided to do this on. I tried to set aside my fears of failure and pain, and got close to succeeding.

I'd been told intervals hurt, but that's an understatement, and not even all there is to it. It's hard to concentrate on keeping a specific level of pain going, even with help from a stop watch and heart rate monitor. And it's even harder to do the second, third and fourth interval when, after the first,  knowing how much it will hurt.

But I did. The real question is: Will I be able to convince myself to do this twice a week until the Solvang Double? To help motivate myself, I got on the scales today. My optimistic estimate of only a slight weight gain over the holidays was proven hopelessly naive. I have a long way to go.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Time Crunched Cyclist Training Program fitness test

heart rate test

Here I am, armed with "The Time Crunched Cyclist" by Chris Carmichael, as if I'm actually going to train for the Slovang Double Century I signed up for. I know I'll ride a bunch, but the idea of planned training is intimidating.

The program starts with a test: find a flat road where you can ride for eight minutes without stopping.
From a near stop, accelerate and hammer as hard as you can for the eight minutes. Record your max heart rate, and average heart rate.

Sounds easy, but it isn't. Just finding a road was tough. I used Chestnut near the Byron Highway in Brentwood, a road was almost long enough, with one turn onto Sellars.

Starting was tough. I had to nearly stop, then hit the lap button on the Garmin while watching my stopwatch.

Riding as hard as I could was, well, hard. It hurt. I kept thinking, as my legs burned (shut up legs) "Do I have more?" and tried to give it.

While not backing off early, I tried to hit the lap button at eight minutes. I was off by five and two seconds.

Now I need to interpret the results.
My Max heart rates were 167 and 170. In the past on short effort hills efforts I've recorded 183 as a max.
My averages on these two runs were 158 and 160. But if I remove the startup heart rates I end up with 165. I did average 165 during a Mt. Diablo Hill Climb Time Trial. So did I ride hard enough this time? Did I have more? Would I have been able to achieve a higher heart rate if I worked harder?  Could I have possibly worked harder? Are the previous highs hill related?

So, what number should I use for my maximum sustainable heart? It matters because that's what gets used to calculate the workouts.

I'm lost. I fear all I've really done is confirm that I'm really slow, and provided only confusing numbers that won't help me figure out what I need to do.

Maybe I should just go ride the bike.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Life, the universe, and cable caps

black cable end

It was one of those things that I noticed when I was on the bike, then promptly forgot all about when I got home. I knew it was wrong, and that I needed to address it, but I just somehow let it fall off my radar over and over.

It started when I was in Washington state this summer. I had a bit of emergency work preformed on my bike right before a big tour. The shop, for some reason, put a gold — that's right, gold — cable cap on my black and white Roubaix. It looked stupid and I intended to change it. I just never did.

On the Lodi Giro d' Vino ride,'s BigBossMan rode up next to me and, at 17 mph, and in his not so subtle manner, called it out. I believe he actually snickered, rolled his eyes, and tried to innocently ask why I had a gold cap on my otherwise not gold bike. I was chagrined to say the least.

I am relieved to report that I have at last  replaced the offending gold cap with a better-than-standard-chrome black cap. And fear not BigBossMan, I also replaced the other caps with black.

I know you, and I, will sleep more soundly knowing this travesty has been dealt with.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Years Day on Diablo

New years day Curtis on Diablo
Slow motion. Very slow motion.
Cliche or tradition? It's hard to say. But Tricia and I rode up to the Diablo summit to ring in 2012. It was a stunning day, and almost too warm, considering we left Antioch in the cold dark fog. By the time we were in Walnut Creek there wasn't a touch of fog, or a cloud in the sky.

There were many more cyclists than cars on the mountain. It made me smile. Back in the "Olden Days" of the 70s just seeing another rider was cause for celebration. Today we were everywhere.

I struggled up slowly today while Tricia looked great. Perhaps doing Pilates in the evening is more healthy than just drinking a glass of wine. Further research will be undertaken.

Now that we are two of those annoying iPhonies we can twitter and Facebook from the summit. So we did.  The best part for me is that the iPhone has a camera, and being that Tricia has one there's a possibility of there being photos of me as well as her on my blog.

New years day on Diablo 2012
Hello 2012! It's us! At the summit!

Year end ride, wrap up and mileage totals

Dec 31 2011 Empire Mine Road
December 31 2011, Empire Mine Road, last ride of the year.  iPhone photo.

I though Friday would be my last ride of 2011, but Tricia had a mileage goal to reach, and when I added up my 3 bikes stats I was just shy of 7500, so we rolled around Antioch until we got nice numbers.

Curtis  stats
Bike        Start           End          Total
Fixed/SS      573           1209          636
Commuter    10200          12560         2360 
Road         3146           7659         4513
                                   TOTAL 7509

Tricia  stats
Bike        Total
Commuter    2000
Road        4400
TOTAL       6400

2011 has been pretty good for riding. Highlights included:

The two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride, and Steven Cozza's Giro Bello Ride
We also managed to ride in California, Oregon, Washington, Vancouver BC, Victoria BC, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. We did a number of group rides and a few organized centuries. Tricia did her Cinderella, I did my Davis Double.

For 2012
I have yet to ride Tam, or the back of Hamilton, so they are still on the list. I signed up the 2012 Solvang Double. Tricia and I have a short summer tour planned.