Saturday, February 28, 2009

Indoor Efforts

3/1/2009 Indoor Training Effort

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Since it is raining and snowing in Atlanta today I thought it best that maybe I try another round on the trainer. I am still not sure if my body is fighting off an illness (swollen gland beneath the one armpit and a slight tendency to cough) so with better discretion I limited my time on the trainer to a 40 minute effort. I am finding that I am starting to adapt to the feel of the Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer a bit more each week as it is becoming easier to sustain higher wattage. I am still below what I could sustain out on the road, but it is a great feeling that not only can I perceive a change, but the numbers on the power output also reflect a positive change.

On all of the charts I set my FT line (yellow dashed line) at a "swag" of 190 watts. This is a guess, but since I cannot mimic my outdoor effort I wanted to keep my effort at more within the L3 Tempo zone. I am hovering just below that set line right where I wanted to be for the majority of the training interval. Same for the efforts below.

2/28/2009 Indoor Training Effort

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The image above is reflective my indoor effort on February 28th. Today rain moved into the Atlanta area and I had to cancel our group ride, which would have been a 54 mile ride and a 2 mile climb at the 30 mile marker. It may have been a blessing that I could not do the group ride because I feel a bit worn down today and one of my glands under my left arm is tender, which usually indicates that my body is trying to fight an illness. I just did two twenty minute efforts near the sweet spot as best I could, but the chart shows a tapering toward the end.

2/25/2009 Indoor Training Effort

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beat Down, Beat Up

I started on Thursday trying to rally the guys for a Saturday ride and then we usually wait and see if Diane organizes something with the Brewcrew, although she calls them her peeps. Much to my surprise there was the ole switch-a-roo on me and Diane tells her peeps that they were doing my route. The email kind of made it sound like I was the ride leader, but I quickly put out my disclaimers that I cannot be trusted to guide the group.

Since I am ADD I sometimes lose focus and break out for an early sprint. That happened early in the ride when Rick looks over at me and says, "this is a good place to stretch the legs." I wasn't sure for a millisecond what he was suggesting, but I saw his move as he broke out of the group and opened up the supercharger. I then got the drift and put on my best impression of Mark Cavendish (minus a whole lot) to catch up to Rick. We forged ahead and I can say Rick that I burned a lot of matches in that early effort that cost me later, but it was a lot of fun. Thanks for the encouragement.

Two hours into the 62 mile ride we did a store stop, but after the store stop we hit some hard head winds. Rick forged ahead and as I saw him going Keith Bolton, Gary Quellet and me wanted badly to catch him, but as usual Rick was just too strong for us. A few more miles Alan Pilling flies by us like he was just warming up, Gary pushes forward with impressive speed and then the whole gang catches me and Keith Bolton. I was thinking like Keith that I was seriously going to hit the wall and go no further, but we held on and stayed with the group hiding in the back and trying to get a little relief from the hard head wind. Diane and her peeps (Brewcrew) are a very impressive and strong bunch to ride with in my opinion. A guy like me has to put in a lot of intense training just to hang with this group. Nancy has amazing power. The last several rides she looked like she had it on cruise control and was right up there in the front doing her share of the pulls along with Peter. Margaret was holding on very good considering I heard she had a knee issue.

They are an amazing bunch of cyclists....oops...I think I already said that. I don't know if Jamie is planning a take over of the group because Diane mentioned something about her "peeps" becoming "peep." Maybe Jamie will lead the ride next weekend, weather permitting. Since we did several lately using the same roads from White up the Fairmont area, I was thinking about something going over toward Kingston and Barnsley. I guess I will have to check with the gang later in the week and see what they are feeling for another exciting ride.

I am wiped out. I feel beat down and beat up. I'm not sure if it was the exciting pace on the first half or the head winds on the second half. My legs were getting sore before I left the parking lot. Considering the wind we faced the last half of the ride, I was content ending with a 17.4 mph average. I wished I had looked at the average before we started back, but I would have to imagine it was pretty good.

Again Rick I enjoyed riding with you on the first half. One of these days I hope to have a better engine to finish the ride with you. And Gary did I mention that I hate your new bike? :) Slow it down a little will ya?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Steep Hill of Life

I noticed lately that the constant topic regardless of what environment I am in these days concerns the economy and politics. On my group or club rides I hear people talking about it, at work, at home, with clients and just about everywhere.

From a cycling point of view I am a cyclist that loves flatter terrain more than I do climbing a steep mountain. Climbing a mountain that extends 6 miles or more can get very discomforting. Normally when you plan a route you know about when it is coming and mentally you begin to prepare yourself that it will be discomforting. The reward of making it to the top is typically the sweet reward of coming back down and though there may be some work and concentration coming off the mountain the work is not as intense as going up.

I have never liked the season of winter because to me it is a very discomforting time especially when it comes to cycling in cold weather. You have to prepare mentally for the season if you want to continue to train outdoors. You feel the sharp sting of the cold wind on your face, fingers and toes. It can be a very discomforting ride, but yet many of us prepare and endure the winter season.

I could just cycle on flat terrain only and I could put my bike away for the winter. I can also tell you that in some odd way enduring the mountain climbs gives me a greater appreciation of the flatter terrain and enduring the cold chill of winter riding helps me appreciate the fact that spring, summer and fall seem to come back around each year.

For a number of years many people around the world concerning the economy have been living it up while riding in an economy of flat terrain and tropical breezes, but now we come to the time of a cold winter mountain climb. For many people who have already lost their jobs and many of us are certainly not sure what tomorrow will bring we are at the bottom of a steep mountain climb and looking up. The thought goes through the mind, “can I climb this hill?” Unlike cycling where a person can just choose to avoid the mountains and the winter season we cannot avoid the mountain climbs in our lives. We live a life of peaks and valleys. When we cycle in a group it is comforting to have friends along the ride with us and know that they too must endure the climb or the cold weather. Our friends have nothing really any more special to endure the elements than we have so it gives some odd sense of comfort to have those endure it with us. We are in this climb together. How can we help keep each other in a positive spirit as we face this climb?

Here we are sitting at the bottom of this climb and we have leaders in this country that we have to depend on to some degree to get us over this hill and get us to the other side. We have leaders that we follow as we get through this winter season of economic struggle, but it is up to each of us to climb this hill and have a perspective that we can make it over the hill. For me I trust in a Leader that exceeds all human leadership. A Leader that is said in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Thirteen years ago I placed my trust in the Lord to guide me over the steep climbs of life and in the cold winter seasons of life. Each time I was confronted with those moments of looking up a steep road in my life and wondered how I would make it over I became anxious, but I can look back at each of those times and see that I made it over the crest. This has built my faith up over the years and yet at times the thought of the cold bitter winds of life weakens me at the knees and I remember to place my trust in the Lord to lead me through it. The leaders of the world are sometimes the most lost of all leaders and seem to be very unsure of where they will take us. Sometimes they think it best to take a diversion to avoid the mountain, but to me I will keep my trust in the Leader that I have chosen to get me over this climb.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Solo Sunday

I am very grateful for the patience Cindi has especially on Valentine's weekend to let me cycle with the guys yesterday and then go out for a solo ride at the Silver Comet Trail. I did my usual L3 Zone (sweet spot training) of 1 hour out, turn, then 1 hour or less back. I was very surprised how my legs felt yesterday and today.

I started with sore legs today, but after a couple of minutes I looked down and I was already cruising in the mid 20's and it felt effortless. Most of the day it felt effortless to hold speed and wattage, which kind of tells me I need to get my Functional Threshold test done soon because it seemed so effortless in the L3 zone.

I still have a goal to finish at the Comet with a 20 mph average in the 2 hour ride. 19 is the best I have done so far and today I finished with 18.8. With fatigue from yesterday and showing some restraint today I wonder if I can reach that goal soon. The challenge is based on foot traffic and intersection stops that I have to make and the time it takes to accelerate back up to speed. I will have to sustain a speed in the high 20's in the longer stretches in order to make up the speed loss due to those obstacles. And a good tail wind wouldn't hurt either.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Soggy Bottom Boys

When writing a blog the hardest thing for me to do is come up with an interesting title, but starting today in a slight misty rain and a few hours of spray coming off the tires the back side can get kind of soggy and so can everything else.

Somewhere in the world someone shares the same interest in the same way. I feel blessed because today we had 6 guys get out for a 52 mile ride despite the weather. Gary Quellet (Quellet Cycling), Neal Bowers, Glenn Hittel, Peter Leafman, Keith Kudlac and me. I love it that they are just as dedicated or maybe they are like me and hate sitting on the dreaded trainer for an hour or more.

At least we did it and the end result was a pretty good ride even as wet as it was. I ended with an average speed of 17.8 and a normal power of 184 watts over the almost 3 hour ride. There was a couple of times that I had a wake up moment coming down some "S" curves. On one my bike slid sideways several inches at a high speed and I had some trouble in another one at a high speed, but we all held together pretty good. For the second week in a row my legs felt pretty good throughout the ride and I felt like I had a lot more engine, but kept it a little restrained.

To my 5 riding friends........Great ride guys!!!!
I know Mike Quick and Edgar Lebron would have joined us if they were able.

Happy Birthday Edgar!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

White to Salacoa Valley

WKO+ Performance Manager
(click to enlarge all images)

Today we had the opportunity to ride with the NARC BrewCrew and it was Nancy who was able to select the route because it was her birthday ride. I was excited all week because the weather was changing from frigid temperatures during the week to a nice weather report for the weekend. Exciting news for any cyclists. The start was a bit cold, but after a few minutes my core temperature went up and all was fine. Plus I was not burdened with a lot of extra layers of clothing or jackets.

As you can see on the Performance Manager I played it safe last week and reduced my indoor training significantly because I felt/feel like I have just a slight touch of a respiratory thing and I didn't want to dig myself a deep hole with training and overstress my immune system. That being the case I felt pretty fresh today unlike the past several weeks. I had to enjoy today because it is back to the indoor training grind next week. The ride from the brewery out to Salacoa Valley is not really my type of terrain because I often struggle with climbing. As you can see on the profile there was some climbing, but I kept up pretty good. After the store stop the terrain suited me better. Downhill or flat....sweet. After the store stop the group was pedaling a mild pace and my engine was a bit anxious. I kept running up on the cyclist in front of me, but I was boxed in and we were bunched up tight. I finally found an opening right up the middle and took the opportunity to break away and just set a comfortable pace. Alan Pilling came up to join in and after a while Peter showed up. We stopped at an intersection, but Alan and Peter waited. I wanted to keep the momentum going so I took off and went back into what I would call my L3 zone type of pace. Not too hard, but just steady and solid. I looked back and no one was in sight. I thought for sure with the slight headwinds that they would catch me since they could pace line (swap fresh riders to pull the group). I kept going and ended the ride with a bit more solid effort compared to past weeks. After the ride several of them said something about paybacks, but I can assure you that if I get back into my indoor training groove this week I will be worn out for the next group ride and payback will be easy for them to accomplish.