Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cherohala Challenge by Neal Bowers

The following was a Cherohala Challenge ride report sent out to the gang as an email by Neal Bowers as a number of us who did not ride in the Cherohala Challenge anticipated the news of not only a challenging course but also a very hot day. It is great to share the success stories of those who I am privileged to ride with and to hear such good news.

To my fellow B-Group team members:

It my honor and pleasure to recommend both Nancy Alexander and Glenn Hittel for the much coveted B-Group "Legion of Merit with Silver Cluster".

Nancy Alexander: Showed total disregard for her personal safety by leading a group of mostly younger riders from Rest Stop #1 for nearly 5 miles at a 19-21 mph. At the NC/Tenn line her average (after the Dragon's Tail) was over 17.5 mph. The Tail of the Dragon climbs were littered with destroyed bikes and egos of passed riders. Although twice wounded by muscle cramps she fought the unyielding heat and 20 mph westerly winds to complete the 117 mile ride in just under 8 hours of seat time. At the top of Santeetlah Gap she was given the opportunity for a photo under the elevation sign - but just growled "Don't have time boys, I have a ride to complete".

Glenn Hittel: Threw caution to the winds to ride with the front leading group led by the whip-cracking, merciless "Paul DeShane of the SS". Glenn upheld the unblemished B-Group honor to stay with the lead riders until the dreaded "Tail of the Dragon". In order to maintain his place in the peloton, he skipped two much needed Rest Stops which put him in a dangerous water shortage situation. Forging on, he encountered unrelenting heat and winds but still completed the ride in approximately 7 hours of seat time. Finally, instead of seeking the creature comforts of food, beverage and A/C, he waited to greet and congratulate the other B-Group riders on their personal victories.

In addition I would like to recommend both Bill Adkins and Neal Bowers to receive the "Why Do I Do This" letter of commendation for their multiple event rides. Both Bill and Neal have 3 completed Cherohala's, with possible more for Bill, the committee is currently checking past riding records for verification. Bill completed this year's event with an injured right knee. Although given the opportunity to be Sagged in, he declined in order to finish under his own power.

I must say with all humility what an honor it was to have shared the roads with such great riding patriots as Nancy, Glenn and Bill. For all those who could not make it, you missed a soul stirring experience - not soon to be forgotten.

Your obedient servant and riding buddy -

R. Neal Bowers

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunflower Ride or Corn Ride?

(click to enlarge image)
(click to enlarge image)

Garmin Connect Ride Data

This year the ride should be renamed because the landowner did not plant sunflowers this year. (see last year's blog entry) Instead corn was planted but despite coming up with a trendy blog name for the ride what matters the most is the ride and those attending the ride that marks the day.

Despite a lot of our regulars being out of town for events like the Cherohala Challenge and other events we did have a good number of cyclists show up for our ride today. The route was a bit over 57 miles and the weather quite toasty with little to no wind, which was good. I think our pace was a little more calm today as well, but based on my recent rebuilding of conditioning I was pleased to do a little slower pace. We did have our impromptu bouts of sprinting and racing when the roads and group spirit was incited to go fast.

Despite the heat of today I did enjoy this training ride. Not quite sure what to do for next weekend, but I am considering the Cartersville Century.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Johnson Mountain Bailout

Garmin Connect Ride Data

The word bailout is being used so much these days in the media that I thought I would not only use the word, but apply it to my cycling addiction. GM gets a bailout, the banks get a bailout so why not me?

Today we were to do a 75 mile route that would include a small climb up Johnson Mountain, but the guys that have been coming to our group rides lately are incredible cyclist that seemingly raise the bar each week on performance output. Today I started the group out, but I am always mindful of what Alan is telling me and that is to get off the front and save some energy drafting in the group. After a few miles I worked my way back, but then the pace started going up with these guys up front working. At the store stop, which was much later in the ride at 44 miles I was already starting to fall off the back of the group, but I still had a 19.2 mph average even as I was slowing down. That was pretty quick considering the hills became big rollers.

The image above is a snapshot of my data just before the store stop.

Just before the store I felt some discomfort in my spinal erectors (lower back muscles) and told the guys and gal that I was bailing out on doing Johnson Mountain. Rick Nielsen also felt as if he strained his inner thigh so he and I both bailed out and headed back together. Like Rick stated, I also agree that I hate to not finish something that I set out to do, but wisdom I am finding out as I get older is a touch better than stupidity from excessive flow of testosterone. Listening to your body during the fight so that you go back to fight another day and I am very glad I did this time around. As we headed back I was starting to feel spasms firing off in various parts of my legs as if they wanted to go into a full blown cramp, but I am also learning how to spin through those and use the gearing on the bike to work through the cramp.

Even though Rick and I bailed out on the full route, we did finish with 65 miles and I finished with an overall average of 17.9 mph despite having to slow way down to avoid the cramps. It wasn't much longer and Alan rolls in, then Edgar, Gary and the other started rolling in.

What is amazing to me is this group that has been collecting lately for the ride has been amazing. It seems like a good chemistry of personalities among those attending and their performance ability has been really challenging to me. All of them are riding really strong. I just do my best to hang on as long as I can and hope the next ride I will have improved so that I can hang on a little longer. They are a nice group, but they will drop you in a heart beat :-)

The group today was Nancy Alexander, Gary Quellet, Edgar Lebron, Tim Jones, Jason, Rod Dubois, Keith Bolton, JD Williams, Alan Pilling, Kit Sealock, Rick Nielsen, me and I hope I didn't leave anyone out. All strong and all hard for me to keep up with, but very glad to ride even just a few miles with them. There were others strong riders that normally ride with us, but many of them had other activities lined up.

To all of those doing Cherohala next weekend we will be rootin' for ya!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back to Blanket's

For a number of weeks I was analyzing my current situation as to why I am in a slump. It amounts to several things, but what to do about it was more important. My wife and I discussed what I could do to regain some lost ground in conditioning this year. In January I was doing great because work stress was lower and my overall training time on the trainer using intervals in the L3 and L4 range was mounting up, but as the months went on this season my time in the saddle was reduced and my training became unorganized. Cindi and I looked at what I did last year and one thing that was missing was at weekly trip to Blanket's Creek mountain bike trails.

My time has to be efficient and prioritized with these things in order.

  1. Abide in Jesus Christ and bible study time each day - (spiritual growth and serving)
  2. Relationship with Cindi - (relationships take time and effort)
  3. Employment - (because its essential)
  4. Household Responsibilities - (part of life and important in keeping #2 in harmony)
  5. Leisure Activities - (cycling is fun, but it is not my employment and cannot exceed the above)

After 1 through 4 it comes to how much time is left for training and lately there has not been much. We looked at what is the best use of minimal training time during the work week. Time is limited so drive time must be limited and training time will be limited. This naturally puts me into a position where I either need to do interval training at home on the trainer or go somewhere very quick, train very quickly and then get home to do my daily chores around the house before getting ready for the next work day, which includes cooking and packaging all my meals because I eat 6 to 8 small meals per day.

Using the Dwelling Loop fits in the best with me at this time. Based on perception, because I do not have a power meter for the mountain bike, I believe using the single track mountain bike trail is perhaps the most intense of all the training I have done in the past couple of years. The burst of effort of climbing short hills and coasting down the next I find my heart rate really high and at the end my legs every bit as tired as doing L4 intervals on the trainer. Plus it is way more fun than intervals on the trainer.

My weekly routine looks like this:
  • Monday - Weights (legs)
  • Tuesday - Weights (chest) / Dwelling Loop (mountain bike)
  • Wednesday - Weights (back) / Spin bike or Trainer L3 or L4 intervals
  • Thursday - Weights (shoulders) / Spin Bike or Trainer L3 tempo
  • Friday - Weights (arms) / no cardio
  • Saturday - Extended Road Ride
  • Sunday - If possible a 2 hour tempo type of road ride between church services

My conditioning already feels a little better just the last couple of weeks for throwing in the mountain bike training and doing the Sunday ride. This is what I have to work with so I will give it a shot and see how things turn out in a couple of months.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cycling Addiction Summer Series Challenge

To add a little excitement to my training for road biking and instead of sitting on the trainer through the summer I have gone back to using a single track mountain bike trail to act as my high intensity interval training. Let's see if I can get some of my friends to participate.

The challenge will run until September 30th for fastest time and most improved rider.

Fastest time around the Blanket's Creek Dwelling Loop on the Tuesday - Thursday Direction. The time is tracked non-stop for 1 lap.

On The Podium: Keith Kudlac 19' 34"

Week: Aug 23 - Aug29
Aug 29 - Kurt Wheeler - 22' 42"
Aug 26 - Jesse Aldridge - 24' 34'

Week: Aug 2 - Aug 8
Aug 6 - Kurt Wheeler - 22' 52"
Aug 4 - Kurt Wheeler - 23' 33"
Aug 4 - Jesse Aldridge - 24' 33"

Week: July 19 - July 25
July 21 - Mark Robnett - 21' 38"

Week: June 28 - July 4
July 2 - Keith Kudlac - 19' 34"
June 30 - Edgar Lebron - 22' 50"
June 30 - Jesse Aldridge - 24' 24"

Week: June 21 - 27
June 23 - Jesse Aldridge - 25' 12"

Week: June 14 - 20
June 18 - Ellis Alexander - 22' 54"
June 20 - Keith Kudlac - 20' 39"

Week: June 7 - 13
June 9 - Jesse Aldridge - 25' 37"

Week: May 31 - June 6
June 6 - Keith Kudlac - 23' 14"
June 2 - Jesse Aldridge - 29' 45"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Silver Comet Sunday - June 7th

After a rough day doing the route from Jasper to Fort Mountain I needed active recovery to not only get some of the soreness out my legs, but to try to pick my spirits up as well. The start of the recovery ride wasn't too good as I arrived with my back up bike I realized I had taken the bottle cages off to put on the LOOK and the noise that I experienced yesterday I thought was the bottom bracket on the LOOK, but the noise was with me again on the Six13. It had to be the rear wheel so I stopped and checked the cassette and sure enough it was loose. I stopped at the Silver Comet Depot Cycle shop and the guys there helped me out and allowed me to come back later after the ride to settle up the fee as I had spent all my emergency money that I usually keep in my tool bag.

After the brief stop at the bike shop I was back on the trail with one bottle in my back pocket my legs were feeling pretty good cruising around 20 to 22 mph with not too much stress. I hear a couple of riders (Conn and Susan) come up behind me somewhere near the 10 mile marker. They drafted me for a number of miles and then Conn comes up front to pull until we get to the 20 mile marker and a place to refill the water bottles. Since I was only carrying one bottle I needed to refill. I was at my turning point for this "recovery" ride and was not sure if Conn and Susan was going further out, but after a few miles of riding fairly easy they pass by me so I joined in once again. The pace that they both held was consistent and smooth so I was very pleased to be sitting in their slipstream. Not only were we moving in the low 20's my stress level felt low in the draft. I could sense after many miles of Conn pulling us that he could use some relief so I went back up front, but I found my effort level going above what I was supposed to be doing. Now we are within the last 4 miles, which is the fast section so we put on a good pace in the mid 20's. In the last 1.6 miles we went more to a cooling down pace and that is when I got to learn Susan and Conn's names. (I hope I got their names correct)

I hear a lot of hardcore cyclist say they would never go to the Comet, but it is surprising at times the good people and talented cyclists that you can meet and ride with on occasion. Sometimes you run into the guy that is on an ego trip that needs to be challenged a bit, but today my recovery ride became pleasantly exciting because of the friendliness of Conn and Susan to let me join in with them for a number of miles.

At the end of the ride I suppose I went a little above recovery ride type of tempo, but I feel like the ride today was very nice and it picked up my spirits because yesterday performance was not so good.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jasper to Fort Mountain - Training Ride

(click to enlarge image)

(click to enlarge image)

(click to enlarge image)

Garmin Connect Ride Data

Today it was our opportunity to have a challenging ride in support of Neal Bowers, Glenn Hittel, Nancy Alexander and others who need some additional training for the centuries like the Cherohala Challenge and other climbing ride coming up. When I got the responses back for who was attending the ride today I knew right off that I would be last coming into the parking area and I was. You can also look at my data above and tell I was having another bad performance day and with the people that showed up for the ride I was in great need of my best legs and heart just to hang on the back.

Right out of the parking lot Rick Nielson led out the group at a brisk pace. I was in third position, but knew very quickly that I needed to back off that pace and settle in with some of the other guys. Even our group had a 19.1 mph average by the time we did our store stop at the 35 mile marker and just before the climb up Fort Mountain. From the time I started climbing to the end of the ride I just began to struggle more and more as I watched my average speed drop.

I think at the end everyone was glad it was done and happy to mark down that they did another good training ride.

For me I would have loved to boast of a great day and post up some impressive training number above, but I am still glad no matter how far off the back I am these day to be inching forward to better condition.

One thing that was good news is that Gary weighed my new bike minus the tool bag and fluids and it weighed in at 14.9 pounds. It wasn't my intention to be a weight weenie, but the bike feels very light in comparison to my Cannondale six13 and even better is how well the bike felt climbing and descending Fort Mountain. Now I just have to improve me in a major way.