Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oww, But in a Good Way

A breakthrough ride of sorts today: 47 miles in 3:03 at 15.4mph.  This is the longest and fastest ride since the injury.  There was some fast group riding on the way out, then pretty hard solo riding on the way back in spite of the fact that the legs didn't feel great.  But the mind was willing and the legs held up.  It helped that I have tiny gears and was willing to use them to "rest" at fairly high cadence.  Three hours after the ride, the legs are mighty sore, but happy.


Friday, July 29, 2011

4444444444444444; Yawn

Oops, my finger got stuck to the "4" the key.  Rode for 44:44 in class today; a recovery ride after an earnest effort yesterday.  I am finding these recovery rides in class mentally harder than hard rides.  On hard days, I focus on effort, on breathing, on form, on hydration, etc.  On recovery days, I focus on the clock.  I think I have a Uri Geller effect on the clock because when I watch it it slows down.  Others are working and sweating while I feel bored and disconnected.  It may be mentally easier to do recovery rides outdoors, but I've never been able to ride at recovery intensity outdoors.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can put up with the boredom twice a week.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Bronx Cheer (Tu-W-Th)

What a difference two days make.  On Monday, I promised that I would ride hard on Tuesday.  I am not sure if I rode hard or it was simply a hard day at the gym, but I had a hard time.  The meat of the workout was four 12-minute threshold-level intervals, first half of each done as a 4-person paceline; 20-second pulls at 29mph with rest intervals ridden at 26mph.  That was followed by 6 minute threshold levels at 28mph.  Three or four minutes of rest between the 12-minute intervals.  Honestly, I was done after 18 minutes.  I rode next six minutes in zone 2.  I managed to ride paceline intervals at threshold level, but at 26mph, and was happy to have hung on even for that.  I sweated my biggest puddle ever in class and my clothes were absolutely drenched.  It was a very humbling experience.

I went back to the club on Wednesday to keep the streak going in a recovery ride.  I rode 40 minutes in a tiny gear with almost no resistance and enjoyed it not a bit.  When I got off the bike, I was dreading the Thursday class a little.  I worried that I wouldn't recover sufficiently to have a productive class.  I talked to Kate after I got off the bike, and she said that Thursday class would be easier, but that I should go down at least half a zone from what's prescribed, maybe as much as a whole zone.  OK, I'll try it, but I worried that even that would be too hard.

I came to class on Thursday feeling not so great.  I was going to start conservatively and see how I felt.  The warm-up was an inverse pyramid of four 30-second intervals with two-minute breaks between sets of four.  We started with zone 5 and progressed over six intervals to low zone three.  We recovered for four minutes, then built up from low zone three to zone 5.  That was OK, but that was just the warm-up.  We took another four minute break, then launched into four sets of three 30-second zone 5 intervals.  The first set had one-minute long rest intervals, the second had 30-second rest intervals, the third had 20-second rest intervals, and the fourth had 10-second rest intervals.  I started in high zone 4 and that was almost comfortable and I did two sets there, bumping up a bit for the second set.  Those went so well that I did the third set in low zone five, then bumped up a bit.  The last interval of the fourth set, I did at 310 watts (my zone 5 starts at 260 watts, so 310 was a big deal).  It was hard, but not awful.  A big difference: it was an easier workout and I had three fans blowing on me instead of one I that had on Tuesday.  Combined results: a smaller puddle, drier clothes, and a feeling of optimism.


Monday, July 25, 2011

No. 25: 52:25

I celebrated the 25th ride with a ride that lasted 52:25 at the club.  In that time Cadel Evans covered somewhere around 40km during Saturday's stage 20 of the Tour, a ride which propelled him into yellow jersey for keeps.  In 2001, I predicted confidently that he would win the Tour in 2005.  He didn't.  He didn't win the Tour in 2006 or 2007, nor in the next three years.

Before this year's Tour started, I predicted that Cuddles would win, reasoning that Contador was too tired physically from winning the Giro d'Italia and emotionally from dealing with his doping scandal.  I felt that Schleck brothers are too nice and are not sufficiently explosive climbers to distance Evans in the mountains to overcome Evans's superior time-trialling.  What do you know, I am right!  Contador had a horrible first week.  When he wasn't crashing, he was getting stuck behind crashed riders, losing time.  Andy Schleck lost time on an intermediate climbing stage, when he got dropped on a climb, then lost his nerve on the descent to the finish, descending nervously, losing even more time.  Then, he complained about the course, exposing his weeny-ness.  He regained some credibility by attacking from 60km out to the stage that climbed the Galibier, and winning alone.  Evans ended up dragging the field up the Lauteret and Galibier for close to 20km, limiting his losses and putting himself in position to overcome Schleck in the time trial.  Contador imploded and lost several minutes to Schleck.  Contador and Schleck tried to get away together the next day to Alpe d'Huez.  Evans had to stop due to a mechanical, but managed to track down Schleck and they finished together.  Contador finished just 30 seconds ahead of them, failing to overcome the several minutes-long deficit from the previous stage.  It was down to the final TT, which Evans rode over 2:30 faster than Schleck, erasing his 57-second deficit and putting him in yellow.  Frank Schleck hung around the top climbers long enough to earn third place.  The first time two brothers have been on the podium at the Tour.

Cuddles was visibly verklempt after the stage, when receiving the maillot jaune, and again after the playing of the Aussie anthem following the final podium ceremony.  It was very touching -- a well-deserved win.

That's enough about them.  Yesterday, I wrote about starting to ride harder.  Hehe, I followed up on that resolution by spinning very easily.  Tomorrow is a hard day, I sweah!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Dozen

Up Tunnel, across on Grizzly, and around the world, clockwise (2:50).  After climbing Pinehurst, my friend Barry and I climbed Manzanita, from the easier tennis club side.  Tennis club side is shorter and probably not quite as steep as the fire station side, but after climbing over a mile up Pinehurst, which averages 6.5%, going up even the easier side of Manzanita is a kick in the pants.

I started the climb seated, then stood up, when I found myself repeatedly pulling my front wheel off the ground.  I stood for about 20 yards, but the foot didn't like that so I sat back down.  Being careful not to pull any more wheelies, I simply rested my hands on the bars rather than pull on them to gain additional leverage.  As a result I had to rely on my legs more, but they responded just fine.  It helped that I had a 30x28 low gear.  In a gear that low, I was riding slowly (5.3 mph), but I made it just fine.

I've noticed that since I've returned to riding, I've been avoiding hard efforts.  Part of it is intentional -- I need to rebuild a fitness base before I can start riding harder and hurting myself.  But in part, it's because, as Woody Allen, "Pain hurts," which aptly summarizes my riding in the past two months and some of the reasons for it.  In the evenings, my leg is still quite swollen above my compression sock (I should measure the two circumferences just for the hell of it).  But I think I'm ready for harder efforts.  Having undergone testing at VeloSF last week, I know now how hard to ride when in class and I am motivated to get faster again.

 P.S. If I'm going to do a century, I need to do at least a four-hour ride, I think.  Next weekend.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chains of Fools

Three fools, chronologically:

Fool Number 1: Andy Schleck lost the 2010 Tour de France when he messed up a shift and his chain came off came off during a crucial mountain stage.  He lost 39 seconds putting the chain back on the chainring, losing the yellow jersey in the process.  His losing margin in the race after 21 stages?  39 seconds.  Today, Andy Schleck repeated the feat when he lost the yellow jersey in the 2011 Tour, when Cadel Evans absolutely trounced him in Stage 20 time trial.

Fool Number 2: Today, I, Vlad Luskin, lost a chainring bolt on his Colnago, but didn't realize it and kept riding.  The chainring flexed inordinately, damaging the chain and leading to the chain's breaking while I climbed Pinehurst today.  I walked a quarter mile up the hill in cycling shoes, pushing the chainless bike along.  Chain breakage ended my 35-mile ride prematurely.

Fool Number 3: Jessica picked me and brought me home.  Later in the afternoon, I turned on the TV, looking for Tour coverage, but VS TV had a cross-country motorcycle race.  At the precise point when I turned on the TV, the screen showed a motorcyclist standing by the side of a muddy trail.  As the camera followed him neared, the announcer said that he thought the rider had broken his chain and in a few seconds, we saw a broken chain dangling in the rider's hand!



Friday, July 22, 2011


Today the Tour climbed Alpe d'huez, so I rode 37 minutes at VeloSF to commemorate Marco Pantani's record for the ascent (36:40).  A minor difference between our rides is in that time, Pantani climbed 1120 meters (roughly equivalent to Mt. Diablo, but steeper) in 21 hairpin turns, while I climbed none and, being attached to a stationary trainer, rounded zero hairpins.  He is estimated to have put out ~360 watts of power for the duration of his ride, while I -- intentionally -- put out an average of 110.  I can do 360 watts... for about one minute.  On the other hand, he died from a cocaine overdose at age 34 and I'm still kicking at 49, with little risk of OD-ing on coke.  But I'll never climb Alpe d'huez in under 37 minutes.  With lots and lots of training and a little luck, I'll climb Diablo in under an hour.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've no idea how far I rode today, but I do know that I rode from 4:38 a.m. To 7:35 a.m. By 6:00 I was in a group of nine. The front of the group was riding casually, conversationally. I struggled, bringing up the rear, but hung on gamely. By the time we reached the Pinehurst/Canyon intersection, the group had disintegrated and I was alone. This was a good thing, as I could just ride at my pace. I slowed down and spun. As I rode today, I appreciated how different riding indoors at VeloSF is from a hilly road ride. I think my climbing legs will return soon to join my spinning legs.

Again, I wondered whether I should attempt riding Marin Century on August 6 or a metric 100. I suppose if I ride sensibly I can go 100 miles, which would be a huge accomplishment so soon after my surgery.

I think I'll go for it. Slowly.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Fifteen minute is inadequate, I've decided, so I am redefining a ride for the purposes of this project.  Now a ride is 33:33 of pedaling (instead of 15:00), which is exactly how long I rode on my own at VeloSF this afternoon, and so far this is the shortest ride of the streak.


Two More

Monday was a rest day at the Tour, so I rested by riding 35 minutes with very little resistance at VeloSF.  I had a RAMP test scheduled for Tuesday and when Kate, the coach who would administer the test, saw me, she asked sternly: "You're going to take it easy today?"  One should be well-rested for these tests.  I responded by pointing to my power meter, which read puny 70 watts.  She nodded approvingly.

And Tuesday was test day.  I spent 50 minutes on the bike between the warm-up, the test, and cool down.  I expected ... well, I'm not sure what I expected.  I feared a 20% loss of fitness and hoped for 10%.  As with most things, results were a dose of good news-bad news.  Good news was the test went surprisingly well -- much better than I expected.  My Zone 5 starts at 260 watts, just 10 watts (4%) below where it was before I got hurt.  My theory about this is that I was initially tested two weeks after I started riding at VeloSF.  I became stronger in the ensuing three months.  I intended to have the test done after Solvang Double, but we know what happened to those plans.  As a result of the injury, I lost fitness but only back to where just a little below where I'd been in January.  So, definitely good news.

Bad news is that I'm going to have to start riding harder in classes :-).

Other bad news is that I appear to have given myself a stress fracture at the base of two of my toes from walking weirdly and too much.  Good news is that it shouldn't affect my riding.


Sunday, July 17, 2011


Rode 10 miles with Jessica this afternoon.  By 3:00 the clouds had long gone.  The morning's foggy drizzle evaporated and the roads dried.  It was completely clear; we could see the Farallon Islands far beyond San Francisco.  A firm tailwind nudged us along, as we climbed Tunnel Road, chatting.  It was very pleasant.

July.  Tour de France time.  A man passing us on Tunnel called out, "a gauche!"  We chuckled.

That's all.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Number 16

Back to riding outdoors, I left the house at 6:45 a.m. with an empty stomach, staring at a 3-hour ride.  Armed with a $25 Peet's card, I rode to the cafe for a pair of mini lemon-currant scones and rode off to meet the SiSi cafe ride at 7:15.  Due to my commitment to VeloSF, I haven't seen some of the guys from that ride for over five months, so it was good to catch up and catch crap for insufficient fortitude to ride in winter weather, even in what passes for winter in the Bay Area.  This winter, however, was much wetter than most and the wetness has persisted into what passes for our summer.  This week we've had drizzly foggy days one after another.

Today was no exception.  As soon as climbed from the house and I crossed Highway 13 on my way to Peet's, the fog thickened.  I looked over my glasses and saw misty drips floating down, down.  A couple of hundred yards farther and the road became damp and mist turned into drizzle.  It remained drizzly until we reached Moraga about 12 miles to the east.

I kept riding, while my group stopped at SiSi.  I didn't have good legs and wanted to keep going, fearing that stopping would leave me tight.  I rode to Walnut Creek, then turned around and took the Lafayette-Moraga bike path back, returning by climbing North Pinehurst to Skyline.  On Skyline a pedestrian would have used an umbrella.  I plunged cautiously into Montclair.  A few words about the Llewellyn: I rode cautiously, braking more that I would have on a dry rode, but the bike felt very sure and stable.  I felt completely safe and confident on the wet descent.  It was a reassuring and inspiring feeling.

I didn't try riding hard, but trying to keep pace with the group, I ended up riding hard, though it couldn't have felt hard to the group -- I am in January-February shape and the guys are in July shape.  That was OK, but it left me with sore legs, so that I even let two people ride away from me on Pinehurst, as I rode home.  I don't do that normally, but I don't have the legs to race these people now.  Give me a month and we'll see.

Tomorrow will be a recovery day.  I really hope I am very motivated for a recovery ride and don't ride stupid when a faster cyclist rides past me.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Number 15: The Commuter

This bike is the older sibling of my commuter, of which I don't have a photo.  The commuter is identical in color and size, except that it has fenders, fat tires, and red handlebar tape.

Another ride to the ferry.  Today I had to hustle, having left the house late, and found myself sprinting over and over again to make it through the intersection on yellow light.  Having left late, I felt I had to take Broadway, the shortest route to the ferry.  Broadway's surface over a half a mile stretch from College Avenue to MacArthur Boulevard is atrocious: multiple potholes merging into two-inch deep troughs running through most of the right lane.  To ride safely, one must ride on the left-most edge of the right lane and it helps to run really fat tires -- I am.  It also helps that Broadway is a six-lane road, so cars traveling in the same direction have plenty of room to pass.  Then, of course, there's bus-pedestrian-car gridlock over a quarter-mile stretch between Telegraph and I-880 over/underpass.  This bike commuting business that's supposed to be good for the environment and for my health may be good for the environment, but I find it damned stressful -- what with dodging potholes and human and automotive road obstacles.  Time to look for alternate routes.

As I rode to the ferry, it occurred to me that 2012 is a leap year, so this project will be 366 rides rather than 365.  I think that if I make it through 365 successfully, riding on the 366th day will not be a problem.

This week's rides have been about exercise (VeloSF) and transportation (commuting).   This weekend's rides will be about aesthetic pleasure (views, views, views) AND exercise -- just the way I like them.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The First 14

I turned 49 on June 30, 2011.  Forty-nine is too old, so I call my age seven squared.  Seven squared feels much younger.  On my birthday I picked up my new Llewellyn and took it for a ride on July 1.  It's a very nice ride: smooth, spunky, confidence-inspiring, and because I have no electronics on the bike measuring my performance, it's simply a pleasure to ride.  The next day, we went for a week to UC Santa Barbara's Family Vacation Center.  On the drive down, I came up with an idea: marking the last year of my fifth decade with a ride every day.  An idea and the impetus for this blog were born.

What qualifies as a ride?  I decided that 15 minutes of pedaling of some sort is a ride.  This allows for rides on stationary recumbent bikes in hotel gyms during business trips, rides on trainers during an illness, and for other exigent circumstances when there is no time, strength, or will for a longer ride.

Definition in hand, I was ready for ride number two.  When we arrived in Santa Barbara, I did a quick and flat 40-minute ride on Foothill Bike Route and the streak was born.  Ensuing Santa Barbara rides (Rides 2-9) ranged from 40 to 90 minutes.  Some were flat, others included a climb with other vacationers up Old San Marcos Pass Road.  I went on a vacationers' ride.  At 27 miles, this was the second longest ride I've done since I gave myself a trimalleolar fracture on March 29.  I left Santa Barbara with nine rides in my legs.  The next day I rode with my friend Barry and his neighbor Mike (Ride 10).  This was very much a conversational ride up Tunnel and across on Grizzly.  I had to turn around at Steam Trains.  Monday through Wednesday, I rode at VeloSF (Rides 11-13).  Today, I was sleepy and my ankle was bugging me, so I bagged the Thursday morning ride and slept in.  At 8:00 a.m., I rode to Jack London Square and took the ferry to San Francisco, then rode to the office (Ride 14).  Commuting counts.

I have to be careful not to overtrain, mixing in a healthy dose of recovery rides or I'll get sick and injured and become irritable.  I'm glad you've joined me on this adventure.

P.S. Happy Bastille Day