Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Two

Yesterday I did the 90-minute class, but not all out.  I did all the intervals, but instead of doing them in low zone 4, I was firmly in zone 1.  Oh, I did all the cadence stuff, but having gone hard in a nearly identical class the day before, trying to do it again would have been detrimental on so many levels.  Before the class, Kate, who was substitute teaching said it was her favorite workout and I replied that I didn't share her enthusiasm.  She promised to teach it differently, but I told her that it was my recovery day and promised that I'd be loafing.  I meant to loaf harder and ride easier than I did.  It turned out an important difference was that she had the class riding hard in high zone 3-low zone 4, while the previous day we did it in high zone 4 -- a significant difference.

I went into Alex's 60-minute class today thinking I'd take it easy today and go hard in a long class tomorrow.  Today's workout (tomorrow's too) would consist of a build up to low zone 5 during the warm-up, then 12 30-second rides in zone 5 broken into three sets of four.  The first set with 2-minute breaks between zone 5 sojourns, the second set had 1-minute breaks, and the third set had 30-second breaks.  The breaks were as restful as possible in contrast to Monday's class, when we "rested" in low zone 2, which was pretty hard to maintain by the end of the class.  I started out conservatively, doing zone 5 intervals at 260 watts, the very bottom of my zone 5.  I did the last interval of the second set at 300 watts and it felt OK.  Hard, but OK.  So, I decided to start the fourth set at 295 watts and go up if I felt good.  I did the second interval at 315, third at 330 and started the fourth at 350.  Midway through the fourth, I dialed it up to 400 and that was reasonably tolerable.  At the end my RPE was 8.5-9.  As on Monday, these intervals were OK because we did them at 100-120 rpm.  Had we pedaled slower, I think it would have hurt more.  After the class, I felt reasonably fresh.  So fresh that I'm kicking around doing tomorrow's class hard also.  Maybe not; we'll see.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Last Week and Why Am I Doing This?

Eight days ago, on Sunday, I rode a century.  Monday was a mellow half an hour of recovery.  Tuesday, I did a hard class.  Since then, it’s been daily half an hour on a trainer just to keep the streak alive.  OK, I was traveling and didn’t have access to acceptable riding weather (high of 117), cycling shoes, or time.  But on Wednesday I was on the trainer for half an hour after work.  On Thursday, I was on the trainer for half an hour before my early afternoon flight.  On Friday, I rode half an hour in 90+ degree weather around my father-in-law’s subdivision in Palm Springs.  On Saturday, I rode an exercise bike for half an hour at a gym in Temecula.  Finally, yesterday, I rode the trainer for half an hour at home in front of the TV with the Vuelta playing.  After I got off the bike, I began to wonder about the purpose of this.  Yes, I resolved to ride every day of my 50th year and, yes, this riding – done smartly – is keeping me strong and healthy, but this half an hour at a time indoors business is boring, marginally productive, and is done just to maintain the streak.  I wasn’t having fun on these rides, although riding around a Palm Springs golf course community in tennis shoes at a slow speed was strangely peaceful.  I recognize that the trip caused a significant portion of the boredom, but trip or no trip, it was boring.  I say all this as a preamble to a resolution to keep cycling during this streak fun as much as I can.

And today, day 60, was a 60-minute VeloSF suffer-fest, which was fun in its own, perverse, way.  Fun, if emerging from an interval on the verge of throwing up is your idea of fun; it must be mine.  Strange, perhaps because today’s intervals were high-cadence affairs, these intervals felt OK during, not so OK after.

Oh, and one more thing: I gained a bunch of weight during my sedentary recuperation and from driving to work, rather than walking to and from public transit.  Two weeks ago, I went off bread and sugar and began eating smaller portions.  I am happy to report a loss of five pounds.  Another eight and I’ll be content.


Updates, Updates

Lots and lots of catching up to do.  So much has happened and I’ve had so little to say about it until now.  On Thursday, August 18, I did a hard class.  Next day, I just spun my legs for half an hour.  Saturday, I barely managed to keep the streak going with 30 minutes of very slow leg turning on the trainer from 9:00 to 9:30 p.m., while reading Born to Run, a book about ultramarathon runners in the US and long distance running Tamahumara Indians in Mexico.   So, yes, hardly any effort those two days.

And that’s because I was tapering for Napa Century, er , pretentiously named Tour of Napa Valley.  The Napa Valley part of the ride was the part I don’t like actually – riding up and down Silverado Trail.  Yes, it’s fairly scenic, ringed with the hills separating Napa County from Sonoma County to the west and Lake County to the east, and vineyards and faux chateaux everywhere, but it has too much traffic, many of the drivers wine tasters, which makes me feel unsafe.  Also, I don’t like riding on flat.  Perhaps because I don’t ride on flat much, I ride harder than I want.  The terrain pushes me to go harder than I ride uphill, for example, and when the time comes to climb, I’d left my legs on the flat, and have to back off and recover.

Well, Howie and I rode Napa Century (click the hyperlink to read that account), then I recovered a lot.  Read all about the recovery and what followed in the post above.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Redemption of Sorts

Today's class was notable for its similarity to a class I did -- tried to do -- about six weeks ago.  After two of four sets of intervals I was done.  Today, remembering that experience, I wondered whether I'd be able to complete the class.  The class consisted of four 12-minute intervals, each consisting of four rollers, ridden in a fixed gear of sorts.  We went at our base speed and cadence on flat for a minute, climbed for a minute at a lower speed and cadence, then descended in a higher speed and cadence for a minute at gradually increasing power/resistance levels.  Four rollers constituted one 12-minute interval.

I was pretty cooked after first two sets of intervals, but I was only cooked medium-rare and was inspired to continue.  After another, I was cooked medium, and after the fourth I was done medium-well.  Glad I didn't have to go into well done.  I must be fitter -- I completed this workout!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Inside Out

Outside in, to be precise.  Outdoors on Sunday, indoors today.

On Sunday, I rode the Dublin Grade loop clockwise: up Tunnel, down Pinehurst, through Moraga and Lafayette, Walnut Creek, straight all the way down to Dublin, right turn, up and down Dublin Grade, through Castro Valley, all the way up Redwood to Oakland.  Much of this ride is flat.  Moraga to Dublin has no hills to speak of, save for a couple of bumps.  There are four climbs of any significance on the entire route: Tunnel, Dublin Grade, and Redwood twice because it climbs out of Castro Valley golf course, descends and climbs again into Oakland.  I had Floyd for company from home to Danville, then we met Gary, who accompanied me for the rest of the ride, while Floyd turned around.

I felt good almost the whole time.  Riding with Floyd was harder.  I was glad we had a red light at Stone Valley intersection in Alamo, where the light is always red, and I could rest a bit.  My legs were sucking wind a bit until we unclipped.  The 30 seconds of waiting for the light to change before we decided to run the red provided just enough recovery time and I felt comfortable the rest of the way.  I climbed smartly and always tried to ride at conversational pace.  As a result, I had enough in the tank to do the second Redwood climb in the big ring.  Before you heap praise, note that my big ring is a 46 and I was in 21 in the rear, so I wasn't exactly turning a monster gear, but after spending all day of spinning up hills it was nice to do something different, something that made me think that I'm strong even though it hurt more than I'd anticipated or would have liked.

Even with that last bit of masochism, I felt surprisingly good and fresh at the end of the ride.  Not sure how far I rode -- having done the ride without a computer -- but I think it's a 70+ mile loop.  Fresh enough to contemplate Napa Century next Sunday.  I'm pretty sure I can do it comfortable if I ride smart -- a familiar enough refrain...

Today, I did a recovery spin in class for 46:46 to celebrate the 46th consecutive day of riding.  I'm becoming a bit concerned about this habit of riding the same number of minutes as the day of the streak -- in a couple of months these rides will stretch to 1:46 if I continue with this and what of next spring?  I have a few weeks to figure out how to deal with this.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Twice Outside (43-44)

Yesterday and today, I did quick jaunts up and down the hill.  Yesterday was not so quick, frankly, as it was a recovery day and I let everyone pass me.  I was riding so slowly that Howie was pleasantly surprised, but even so, he ended up half-wheeling me -- I was riding so slowly.  Today, I rode more aggressively, but focused on spinning, preserving my legs for tomorrow's long ride.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recovery? My Quads!

As I said yesterday, this is supposed be a recovery week at the club.  If you ask my legs, they'd say, "hardly."  In all fairness, that's due to my brain -- I did three classes hard in four days.  No one else was telling me to ride as hard as I rode.  Instructors' instructions were instructions -- not orders -- and I was free to modify or disregard them.  I chose not to.  Actually, I modified a few times -- in the wrong direction.

OK, it was all my fault, but, as I walked up the stairs to the house, legs weren't working so well.  No ice skating tonight, thank you.  Feel much better after an Epsom Salt bath.  Will try a four-hour ride this weekend.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two by Four(ty-one)

To celebrate the 41st consecutive day of riding I did a very easy recovery ride of 41:41.  Watched Alex the instructor and one other rider in the noon class sweat bullets; they looked like they were working really hard -- I wasn't paying attention very well to what they were doing.  During a break in the action, I said to Alex, "man, and this is supposed to be a recovery week!"  He nodded and more sweat fell off his nose.  I'm looking forward to that workout tomorrow.  Or maybe not so much...


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ninety for Forty

This morning I felt surprisingly fresh after yesterday's class.  I decided to do a full 90-minute class today, but to take it easy.  I told Kate I was feeling fairly energetic and asked just how easy I should take it.  She said this is a recovery week, so yesterday's class should not have left me exhausted and suggested taking it down one-third to two-thirds of a zone.  Good enough.  I took it fairly easy during the warm-up.  When the 23-minute reverse pyramid began, I stayed two-thirds of a zone back.  But today's version -- even at two-thirds of a zone behind -- was almost harder than yesterday's workout done full bore.  The difference was yesterday Alex had us going at eight to ten miles an hour below our base speed.  For me this is 16-18 mph, which is still plenty of leg speed and not so muscle-tension, making it hard, but more aerobic than it may have been at lower speed and cadence.  Today, Danielle had us going at the slowest cadence we could manage without losing form, so I rode at 11-12 mph (~45 rpm) and that felt like riding through sand dunes or running in chest-high water -- lots of resistance.

Anyway, I did first four intervals faithfully two-thirds of a zone behind prescribed intensity, but went full bore at the fifth.  It was only one minute long and, as yesterday, I still could do anything for one minute, including this interval.  Between intervals I was resting "harder" than yesterday, riding at lower speeds and resistance levels, which left me fresher for the ensuing intervals.  The first interval of the second set I also did two-thirds of a zone off.  The second was only five watts off, then decided the hell with it, and went for the remaining three with full gusto.  It was hard, but not overly so -- a satisfying workout.

I'll rest for real tomorrow.  Promise.

P.S. That's 40 now.


Monday, August 8, 2011

If Six(ty) Was Nine(ty)

Six was nine and sixty was ninety today.  An easy hour-long class became a hard 90-minute class.  I went to VeloSF with thoughts of an easy spin today and a hard workout tomorrow.  But I didn't exactly overwork myself in the last three days, so I made an impromptu decision to go for it.  The class's structure appealed to me -- lots of muscle tension work.  Muscle tension is more about strength than about panting.  It's about fighting through burning pain in my legs at low cadences, rather than spinning like crazy at high cadences, feeling as if my heart is about to jump out of my throat.

Today, we did five minutes in mid zone 3, four in high 3, three in low 4, two in mid 4 and one in high 4.  We stood roughly 45% of the time.  We rested for two minutes in low zone 2 between the intervals.  Legs burned, but not too badly.  At the end of this five-interval set, which ended the class, Alex, our instructor said, "and this piece of paper says another 23 minutes."  I asked, "is that for the 90-minute class?"  Alex nodded.  I said, "I'll do it with you if you want to keep going."  He was willing, as was another student, so the three of us did another set.  We rested in zone one because this set started in high zone 3 and finished in zone 5.  For the one minute in zone 5, I went at it with resistance set at 305 watts (my zone 5 starts at 260), reasoning that we can do anything for one minute and I can do 305 watts sitting and standing for that long.  I did.  It was hard.  If I had to, I could have done another minute at that power level.  I am glad I didn't have to.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Can't Ride 55 (36-38)

We made a quick getaway to Santa Barbara for an FVC booster shot.  I worked on wearing out the small chainring on my Spectrum 1.  In the 2:40 I rode over three days, I spent less than 20 minutes in the big ring -- intentionally.  Ninety-eight percent of my riding was on flat roads, perfectly suited for big ring mashing, but I wanted to concentrate on spinning, so I was in 30x14 a lot, most of the time at cadences over 96 rpm.

As for the the title of the post, my rides were 50, 50, and 60 minutes.  That's riding.  Driving home from Santa Barbara was atrocious -- it took an hour to get through Salinas, averaging 6mph -- thank you Monterey traffic and the idiot who put up a huge hand-made billboard in north Prunedale complaining about a government land grab that obviously slowed down traffic.  We went from 15mph to 60 immediately after passing his damn sign.  It would have been nice to drive 55, but NOOOO!  The drive to Santa Barbara took under 5 hours and included a lunch stop.  The drive back took 6:30!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Prime Recovery

Rode easily at the club for 53 minutes because it's a prime number and for no other reason.  Did some one-legged pedaling.  One-legged felt harder than usual I think because I did high cadence riding yesterday, which taxed my hip flexors quite a bit.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

45 in 4

Another hard class at VeloSF.  After a warm-up that included forays into Zone 5, we did 45 minutes in zone 4.  Not consecutive 45 minutes, mercifully, but in three sets of sets.  The first was three 5-minute intervals with 3 minutes recovery between intervals; second was five 3-minute intervals with one minute; third was 15 one-minute intervals with one minute recovery in between.  The second set was the hardest physically, the third was the hardest mentally.  Because we got three minutes off between intervals during the first set, it didn't feel so bad.  With two or three one-minute intervals to go, I felt so overheated that I took off my sleeveless base layer and rode topless.  The difference in core temperature was palpable: my RPE dropped by about 0.75, and I rode the last interval at 10% greater power level than the earlier intervals.  That (lower core temperature) and knowing that it was the last interval...

Marissa, the instructor, responded to my post-class wardrobe propriety question with an understanding shrug and said she doesn't mind my going topless.  Bottomless may create problems, she cautioned, smiling.  I promised to keep my pants on. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Home Ride

Got off the plane early enough for a 33-minute trainer ride at home.  Fitting length for my 33d ride.  This trainer ride's only measurement apparatus was my watch.  No speed, no cadence, no power, no distance, no heart rate.  With National Swimming Championships on TV, the 33 minutes flew by quickly.  I love watching my childhood sports.  I haven't swum competitively since I was 10, but I feel a connection to the sport when I watch it.  Same with track meets, tennis, soccer.  Volleyball, not so much because even women play a completely different game than I did as a kid.  My volleyball was pretty much below the net and errors far outnumbered kills.  But swimming, running, jumping and kicking the ball -- I can relate.  Even tennis.  I've been blown off the court by some of the best regional junior players.  With a lot more training and talent, on a very good day, I might have belonged on the court with them :-)


Monday, August 1, 2011

Hundred Times Legally Drunk... +1

One month and one day down, less than eleven to go.  One month is a twelfth of the goal or 8.5%, one hundred times the legal limit.  Not that funny, just enjoying numbers.

Yesterday (Sunday) I puttered around the house most of the day.  At Jessica's urging, I finally got out at 5:04 p.m. -- the latest I've started a ride on this streak.  Only had time for 40 minutes, so I climbed Tunnel in the big ring.  A tailwind helped.  It was hard at times, but always manageable.  Felt encouraged that I could do it reasonably comfortably.  Was out of time, so turned around and descended Broadway Terrace.  Broadway Terrace feels like a short-cut, but is very windy (windy, not windy -- OK winding) and requires so much braking that it seems to take a long time to descend.

Traveling for work tomorrow, so decided to go hard in class today because I won't be able to do a hard class tomorrow.  In class, did everything prescribed and felt good doing it.  Feeling optimistic about recovering my form.  Hope my flight home tomorrow leaves on time, so I can squeeze in a home trainer session late in the evening.  Riding stupid early is also an option, but I have a 6:50 a.m. flight, so it would have to be really stupid early.