Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Oopsie!  Ride 275 began at 11:31 p.m. on Saturday and ended at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.  This was a first such event.  Anyway, this 30-minute trainer ride was close enough for my needs.

Ride 276 was 40 minutes up the hill and back down, then on to OHDS's very cute staging of Fiddler on the Roof.

90 to go.  In terms of bottles of beer countdown, this makes it 15 six-packs.  Speaking of which, I'm going to start doing core training again.


Friday, March 30, 2012

A Whole Bunch!

Rides 265 and 266
A welcome half an hour of recovery-paced riding after Tuesday’s class, and another one the next day.

Ride 267
On Friday, I drove to Solvang for the first double of the season.  Forecasters promised rain, so I shelved the newly-repaired Llewellyn and went with my fendered Spectrum.  Checked into the hotel and dressed for a ride.  I hadn’t been on this bike in over a year, so definitely needed a shake-down cruise.  Rode into the wind, westbound on Highway 246, then north on Drum Canyon Road -- also into the wind -- and back for 70 minutes.  When I returned to the hotel, my sit bones weren’t feeling good.  So I decided to raise the saddle.  By half a centimeter.  It’s not as bad as it sounds – on the ride I’d wear my Riivos that have a thicker sole than the Rocket 7s I wore on the ride.  So, yes, a different bike, a new position, and different shoes.  I also felt a bit cramped with the 10cm stem that was on the bike.  Stupid?  You bet!  Oh well, what the hell.  Kevin Thornton came by in the evening.  We’d met online and would ride this double together.

Ride 268
Solvang Spring Double.  Sucked.  First 101 miles took 5:32 at 19.1mph.  I guess that part didn't suck.  We were fairly fresh and social and this part went by quickly.  The return took 7:40 at something like 12 mph into 15-25mph headwinds.  When we were lucky we had cross winds.  Fucking demoralizing.  The wind did a complete 180 from the day before.  Last year’s 90 miles of rain was better than this.  Glad I brought the fendered bike, it made the rain stay away until late evening, but I wonder if the fenders were catching the wind and slowing me down.  Funny thing is legs felt OK at the end of the ride and responded well to efforts with no hint of cramping.  There was severe brain cramping, however.  I’m pissed at this ride and it’s all wind-related.  Fuck it; don’t want to write about it anymore.

Oh yeah, the bike fit and the shoes worked out just fine.

Ride 269
What?  Was there any question this was going to be anything but half an hour of recovery on the trainer?

Ride 270
Or this?

Ride 271
I did 80 minutes in class, doing everything everyone else was doing, and the legs responded well, considering I’d done a double three days earlier.  Decided to bag it while I was still relatively ahead.

Ride 272
Another half an hour on the trainer.  This was a "pre-covery" ride ahead of next day’s all-out efforts at the gym.

Ride 273
This was fun, of sorts.  I had an appointment in late afternoon and would have to leave class early.  So I arrived 15 minutes before class and began my warm-up.  The warm-up was a 12-minute build-up of cadence and resistance.  After the warm-up, I recovered for four minutes, then did a five-minute all-out effort.  This consisted of the first three minutes at 250 watts at 25mph and two minutes at 260 watts at the same speed.  I’d bumped up the resistance because I felt that I could tolerate it.  It was tolerable.  I was quite spent at the end, but honestly it wasn’t an all-out effort.  Maybe five minutes at 260 would have done the trick, but we were supposed to do this effort in low zone 4 and my zone 4 is 235-265 watts, so I thought 250 was plenty optimistic when I began and was pleased to have sustained 260 at the end.

I finished the five minute interval, just as the class was starting its warm-up.  Five minutes was hard, but the 20 we all dreaded.  It was time for me to start my 20 just as they were starting their five.  Much to my surprise, they didn’t crank into their perceived max resistance, but spent the first minute building up to it.  That would have been easier.  Oh well, I launched into my 20-minute interval at 225 watts.  Kate wanted us to hold whatever we could during minutes 5-15, then go harder, if possible.  No reducing resistance.  Blowing up was acceptable, easing up was not.  I rode at 25mph and it was all fine and manageable, gradually becoming more and more uncomfortable, but I made it through the 15th minute with the legs feeling OK.  Then, during minute 16, I completely lost it aerobically and had to stop.  Fucker!

[A day later, I think about how easy it would have been to hold on for another 3.5 minutes (just 210 stinkin’ seconds).  But no, there is no way for my brain to replicate what the body was feeling and the mind was thinking at the time without replicating the effort.  I feel fine now, so 3.5 minutes seems that it should have been doable.  But when I was on the bike, at 16.5 minutes, additional 3.5 minutes at 230 seemed like an eternity in purgatory.]

I put my head on the towel-covered handlebar and proceeded to completely soak it with sweat.  A minute or two later, I started breathing normally again and my blood began to flow into my brain again (this reminded of a treadmill stress test I’d done at a cardiologist’s office some years ago.  It feels easy and manageable for a long time, then it feels hard briefly, then your blood pressure drops, as your body stops supplying the brain with oxygen and the heart worries about other organs, and it feels like you’re about to lose consciousness.)  I was warming down as the class began its 20-minute interval and they began it with a four-minute build up to their “20-minute” power.  Hell, if I’d known to take it easier during the first four minutes I might have lasted the full 20.  Oh, well, that’s what I get for jumping the gun.  We're doing this effort in 12 weeks, so I get the chance to do it all over again at higher power levels if the training does what it's designed to do.

Ride 274
Two hours with Brian early in the morning, culminating with a latte at Peet’s.  All conversational.  A little harder than yesterday’s efforts would have mandated, but thoroughly enjoyable.  My favorite kind of riding.

92 to go.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

264 and Pounding

I did a 90-minute class today and it was supposed to be an easy day.  I suppose from the power perspective it was not awful -- we didn't go over high zone 3 (OK, I ventured into low 4 for one minute) -- but there was a lot of steady state work.  Not sure if I'm improving and my power levels have risen, but I felt almost comfortable doing three sets of rollers that ranged from 9 to 12 minutes and three sets of steady state efforts.  Kate, who taught this class, polled us regarding RPE after the steady state efforts and people reported 7.5-8.5 efforts.  During the first one, I was at 6.5 and the last one, the one that I finished in low zone 4, was about 7.5.  It was work, but very tolerable work.  It felt like I could have done more.  Now, it's on to maintenance and tapering before Solvang, which is just four days away.


Monday, March 19, 2012

263 Just Like Putting On Pants

Still in recovery mode from Saturday's two-hour sweat-fest, I did 35 minutes at the gym.  Midway into my warm  up (yes, I warm up for recovery rides.  Would you like to make something of it?) I remembered my resolution to do more one-legged riding during recovery rides.  So, I did four two-minute intervals with each leg with one minute of two-legged pedaling in between to get the resting leg primed for its upcoming one-legged session.  Heart rate was low, discomfort level was high during the last 30 seconds of each turn.  I'm glad I limited them to two minutes each.


Sunday, March 18, 2012


Maybe it's dull to keep track of rides in post titles, but at least it'll be hard to mess up the math again.  I'll add pithy bits about the rides to the numbers to make the titles informative.

But not to 262; nothing clever or interesting about this ride.  262 was just half an hour on the trainer, watching Cal women beat Iowa in first rounds of NCAA hoops tournament on the tube, recovering from yesterday's indoor-a-thon.  I thought of riding outdoors, as we had dry and clear skies for the first time all week, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to contain myself and ride at recovery pace and not chase every cyclist on the road.  So, I made sure I'd have no competition on this ride.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

260 and 1

260 was just a half-hour leg turner at home.  I may have broken a sweat.  261 was a heavy sweat-breaker.  I did a two-hour class at the gym, for which I arrived 15 minutes early and ended up on the bike for 140 minutes. I went through at least a half-dozen towels.  Two on the drips to soak up sweat, another across the brake hoods and three or four to wipe myself down.  The class went very well.  The meat of the class was 50 minutes of rollers in zones 2-3.  I felt good during the rollers.  The potatoes was half an hour of steady state work in mid-high zone 3.  Well, the latter I turned into half an hour.  The class did two 15-minute intervals, but I was in a rush to get home, so I skipped the five minutes of recovery between the intervals and just kept going.  During the last 15 minutes I raised the resistance by 5 watts every three minutes and during the last three minutes of the interval ended up pushing against a pretty hefty resistance.  And that felt pretty good.

This class left me feeling better still about my fitness for Solvang.  I'm still NOT hammering this ride.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

259... Again

It's funny how one's [this one's at least] self-worth as a cyclist completely depends on the quality of the last ride. On Saturday, after a five-hour mellow and scenic ride my legs felt great and I was optimistic about Solvang.  Tuesday, after class during which I had to scale down my efforts to complete the intervals, I was all bummed and wondered whether it was my legs or I was still recovering from being sick for two weeks and doing zero intensity training during that period.

Who knows.  The see-saw that is my opinion of my cycling prowess is on the upswing again after today's class.  We did two long climbs -- one a 10-minute zone 2-3 effort and the next a 20-minute zone 3-4 effort.  Remembering my flailing two days earlier I approached the intervals cautiously, riding on the lower ends of each zone fraction.  The final set was seven two-minute intervals in zone 4, with two minutes recovery between each.  I started on the lowest possible edge of zone 4.  It was hard, about a 7-7.5 RPE.  I worried about how intervals 5, 6, and 7 would feel.  I took it really easy during the recovery interval and the second effort felt better than the first.  I continued resting as energetically as I could and the intervals went OK.  I poked the resistance up by 10 watts for the fourth interval, then by another 10 for the seventh.  The last one's RPE was 8-8.5, but since it was the last one it was tolerable.  I wonder how we would have reacted had the instructor announced we had to do one more... or two more?

I cooled down on the trainer for 15 minutes, head and legs feeling pretty good considering the volume of work I'd done.  And my mood, you ask?  My mood is great, but I'm still not going to try to hammer that double.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Approaching Double Digits

Without noticing, this week I went past ride 266, which means I have fewer than 100 rides remaining.  I was vaguely aware of this fact and hoped to celebrate 266th ride but the weather has been crap.  Since I'm unwilling to risk getting sick so close to a double, I have been riding indoors.

Ride 265 was a slow recovery leg-turner at home.  Ride 266, actually, was a 33-minute outdoor ride in the dark in the neighborhood after work.  I went to the south side of Moraga Avenue and rode around Piedmont on streets I don't know well.  It was a nice, calming experience.

Ride 267 kicked my butt.  I did a full class, but had to ratchet down my cadence to complete all the intervals.  Perhaps illness-related deconditioning combined with a hard class.  I had several episodes of head rush in the evening.  If that's a measure of strenuous exercise, the class was strenuous indeed.  Ride 268 was a recovery ride after ride 267.

OK, I just did the math forward and backward and somewhere in tracking rides I gained 10 rides, where I shouldn't have.  The correct number is 258, not 268.  Oops.  Ride 268 will be Solvang Double.



264 was a fun ride.  I left at 6:00 a.m. to the sounds of wild turkeys gobble-gobbling in Mountain View Cemetery three blocks away.  Five minutes later, I returned to the same sounds, having left both bottles at home.  In light of the upcoming four-plus-hour ride this was a prudent move.  As I was leaving home for the second time, still to the sounds of gobbling, I noticed that there was enough daylight now to ride without a light.  I thought this wistfully, as we were changing clocks that night, so back to lighted riding we go.

I was meeting Gary in Danville at 7:45 and now was running late, so I decided to take a shortcut and climb Shepherd Canyon.  After something in the order of eight minutes of reasonably strenuous climbing, I found myself at Skyline and Shepherd/Pinehurst/Manzanita intersection, just 26 minutes into the ride, having saved all of five minutes, thus recovering the five minutes I'd wasted on my return home.  As before, I grabbed the drops and resolved to ride as much as I could in that position.  In that position, I rode through Canyon, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Alamo into Danville.  In Danville, I stopped at Peet's, ordered a medium latte in a large cup.  There's a reason for that order.  I dump two spoonfuls of honey in the cup and top off the latte with milk, bringing the drink's temperature to just above tepid, allowing me slam this caffeinated energy drink.  This time, this was unnecessary, as Gary was running a few minutes late and I had time to sip rather than gulp.

Gary arrived and we set off southbound toward San Ramon and Dublin.  I went back in the drops.  I'd spent so much time in that position that tops and hoods felt unnaturally high, making feel as though I were an old man on an upright beach cruiser.  When we reached Dublin, we decided to explore north side of I-580.  Normally, we take Dublin Canyon Road that runs parallel and south of the freeway.  It's straight and utterly boring.  Dublin Boulevard, west of 680 climbs and curves up a barren hillside to Schaefer Ranch housing tract at the top.  The tract is unattractive, but the climb, though steeper and shorter than east side of Dublin Canyon is more interesting and at least provides an alternate route.  It's also quieter and less trafficked.  Dublin Boulevard dead ends, but we took Schaefer Ranch Road south, joined Dublin Canyon, and descended to Castro Valley.

We rode through most of Castro Valley, then decided to explore Cull Canyon.  Cull Canyon Road is a 6.25-mile road that runs north from Heyer Avenue and dead ends almost at the latitude of the Redwood-Pinehurst intersection.  Alas, it appears there are no dirt roads or trails connecting Cull Canyon with Redwood or Pinehurst, for it would make for a fun and scenic mixed terrain ride.  Cull rolls gently uphill at 1-2%.  There are no appreciable turns.  There's much wild and farm life and a vineyard.  It's beautiful, serene, scenic, and quiet.  I'll ride it again soon and often.  A very pleasant 12.5-mile detour.  As we rode back, I remarked that it would be nice to have a car take us to Redwood Road on the outskirts of Castro Valley, where scenery was similar to Cull Canyon's.  Riding through town would definitely harsh my mellow.  It did -- houses, traffic lights, cars, trucks, convenience stores, teenage drivers...

Fortunately, this didn't last long and soon we were on Redwood, riding through Redwood East Bay Regional Park.  We climbed and descended Redwood and parted at Pinehurst intersection.  It was time for me to go home.  I continued up Redwood, a little more briskly now -- I was on schedule to be over half an hour behind schedule for my return home -- then right on Skyline, down Joaquin Miller, through Montclair.  A pleasant, decently long, and not too strenuous ride that left me optimistic for Solvang.  If I aim for ~16 mph average speed, I should have an enjoyable ride and should be able to complete the double even without a suitably long training ride in my legs.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Morning

A seldom-seen event -- a Friday morning ride.  Yes, this was a Friday ride with my usual Tuesday-Thursday group.  I did an 1:45 of mostly zone 1-2 riding and am perfectly happy with it, albeit sleepy now.  Will try to get in something in the order of five hours tomorrow in mock preparation for Solvang Spring Double just two weeks from now.  I figure I ought to be at least in shape to ride half of it.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Five More

On Sunday, Jessica and I did a mellow half an hour neighborhood ride.  We took it easy up and down neighborhood hills on a lovely, sunny day.

On Monday, I did easy 40 minutes in class, finally feeling like I'm getting over my cold.  So, on Tuesday, I came to class half an hour early and rode gradually harder, feeling all right.  I stayed in class through the warm up, which at times can be harder than many of the intervals.  With about 50 minutes in my legs, I called it a day, not wanting to overdo it.

On Wednesday, I continued increasing intensity, doing the warm up and and one and half intervals.  That was enough for then.  And today, i increased intensity some more, doing the warm up and 2.8 intervals.  After two weeks of zero intensity, followed by a third day of increasing intensity, so by the third interval I just didn't have it.  So I took a break in the middle of the interval, then came back and finished it off.  For ride 262 that was enough.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

257 Degrees

Seriously.  Today, March 3, 2012, it was 257 degrees in Oakland.  I rode in shorts and short sleeves and, surprising for that kind of heat, I was plenty comfortable.

Finally, today I am feeling a little better, albeit after yet another morning of coughing up colorful organic matter.  Still being careful, I decided to TRY to take it easy and get out there for 80 minutes or so.  It was beautiful and calm outside.  I spent the first five minutes of the ride pleasantly absorbed in thought and scenery, but as I rode through Lake Temescal Park, I heard: "On your left," as a whipper-snapper (in my 50th year and beyond I am entitled to call everyone under 35 whipper-snappers) spun past me.  He was wearing a matching Nike (yecch!) kit, sported shaved legs, and was riding a plastic bike whose decals I did not recognize.  Visually and aurally, this totally harshed my mellow.

I am not used to hearing "On your left."  Compared to the matching Nike outfit, however, this was a minor offense.  I have a deep-seated and illogical dislike for Nike and all it represents (LA and TW, for starters), so having to stare at Nike as he rode in front of me, was just appalling.  He exited the park and turned up Broadway, still going in my direction.  I weighed my options.  I could let him ride away, compounding the offense, or I could speed up, again abandoning my plan for an easy ride, pass him and ride away.  I was 80% certain I could pass him and stay in front.  I wasn't so sure this would be a good idea on my first half-way decent day after 12 days of a cold that lived in my chest for so long that it could have sought title on the grounds of adverse possession.

Was there any real doubt that I'd choose the latter?

I reeled him in somewhat slowly and passed him toward the top of Broadway.  The light at the overpass on the top was red and long and he pulled up just behind while I waited.  As soon as it turned, I sped away and didn't look back.  I rode at RPE of 7.0 -- 7.5 for about seven minutes, then glanced back and didn't see him.  I glanced back a few more times to make sure and didn't see him.  I slowed to conversational pace.  I concluded that he descended Tunnel toward Claremont or turned toward Parkview condos.  Either way, I flogged myself -- in my precarious just-post-cold state -- for nothing.  I chastised myself harshly because I could have ascertained that he wasn't behind much earlier, slowed down much sooner, and prophilactically saved myself from a possible relapse into chesty convulsions.  Oh well, better late than never.  I rode easily to Skyline-Grizzly intersection, continued along Skyline to Joaquin Miller and turned around to climb back.

I've been reading Scott Saifer and Chris Carmichael on importance of riding in the drops -- additional position, greater efficiency, greater speed, better aerodynamics, less effort, etc. -- so, at the top I'd remembered about riding in the drops and decided to make this a drops ride.  This included the always dorky-looking climbing in the drops.  Anyway, I turned around at Joaquin Miller and started my in-the-drops climb back up Skyline.  After a couple of minutes of this, whom do I see but the Nike guy.  I guess he didn't turn off... he gave up.  Heh, heh, heh.  With a cheery disposition, I continued up Skyline to Thornhill, where I turned downhill and headed home.  At the bottom of the descent, I got out of the drops and put my hands on brake hoods.  I can tell you that this position has never felt weirder.

One more thing about this ride: I wore my much-compressing 2XU bibs on this ride, just for the hell of it.  I've owned them for a little over a year and didn't like them much because however much I like the compression on my quads, I dislike the roominess of the butt even more.  It occurred to me today that maybe I was wearing the bibs too low because leg grippers as so... grippy that I wasn't pulling up the legs as high as I should.  So I pulled them up higher and they fit and felt just great.  Will try them on a three or four-hour ride next.  The way they felt today, they're in serious consideration for double-century bibs.

Oh, ride 256, was a very easy half an hour on the trainer at home.

Ride 255 was kind of interesting.  I did 80 minutes in class.  The bulk of the workout was 15 one-minute muscle-tension Zone 4 intervals interspersed with one minute relatively high cadence, Zone 2 spinning as recovery.  As I was still hacking, snorting, and spitting frequently, I did the workout 100 watts below the prescribed zones.  I did muscle tension work at 145 watts, which is firmly in Zone 1 and proudly did my recovery at 65 watts.  Recovery spins were more taxing, as I thought they would be.

And ride 254 was half an hour at the gym on the trainer.

All caught up now.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Three for 90

Rode twice at the gym for half an hour and the third time at home.  The third ride had a twist: I did two five-minute one-legged intervals with each leg.  I pedaled squares at times and walking felt funny when I dismounted, but it was a useful ride that put me in the mood to do one-legged drills regularly during my indoor recovery rides.  The cold is improving somewhat.  Need more sleep, so off to bed to catch 253 winks.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oral History

I posted diligently for two days, then not so much...

First, a brief narrative.  This week (today is Saturday), I had a cold, so did only minimums -- half an hour on the trainer at the gym with next to no effort.  Before then, I spent Presidents' Day weekend in Palm Springs, where I had several good rides.  And before then, I had several good rides in the gym, followed by an awful ride outdoors.  On to the details.

Today (ride 250) was my first almost-over-my-cold ride, so I did something like 50 minutes outside.  The morning was cold, but it was considerably warmer by 3:00 p.m., when I went out.  Not warmer enough and I found myself underdressed, wistfully missing my knee warmers.  At the last minute before heading out, I grabbed arm warmers and put them on within two minutes of the ride's start.  A wool jersey and a wool base layer were sufficient for the upper body.

Remembering that I wasn't completely well, I planned to ride conservatively.  And I rode fairly conservatively at the start, not chasing a rider I saw in the distance.  Unfortunately, things changed after a fit cyclist passed me on the way up Tunnel.  There was another rider ahead, so I started riding tempo -- a pace a call fairly strenuous, but one I can maintain for extended periods and one that does not affect my breathing.  By the top I'd passed them both, though, to be honest, the one who had passed me was riding as if he'd lost interest.  I did a short cruise on the ridge, then turned around and headed home.  For some reason, today I descended well.  Perhaps it's shortage of recent practice.

Yesterday, I did half an hour on the trainer at the gym at 50 watts, while reading Ivan Doig's Sea Runners, a novel about four Swedish men in Russian indentured service, escaping from servitude in what is now Sitka, AK in a canoe in late November 1850-something and heading to Astoria, OR.  A gripping tale.  Half an hour flew by in mere 30 minutes and I don't know how many pages.

Wednesday and Thursday were the same: riding easily at the gym, though I did 50 minutes on Thursday and an hour on Wednesday.

Tuesday was my last ride in Palm Springs.  I rode to and up Tram Way.  This one took about 90 minutes.  The road back was great fun -- about 20 minutes at 0.5% downhill.  Though I knew I was getting sick, I could not resist hammering, so I hammered and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Monday and Saturday, I did fairly quick flat loops.  it's a nice luxury to be able to choose climbing or flat riding.  In Palm Springs, you can ride on flat roads all day, or you can head southwest into San Jacinto Mountains for a 14-mile climb on Highway 74, known also as Palms to Pines Highway.  On Sunday, I did the latter.  The climb starts deceptively with four completely straight miles.  Though the road climbs at 4-5%, the entire landscape climbs with you, so it doesn't look as if you're climbing.  It feels as if you're climbing and the legs tell you you are, but the brain doesn't believe it and it's hard to understand why it feels hard.  After four miles of that the road starts behaving like a proper climb, switching back and fort and zig-zagging.  I did another four miles there, then turned around.  Even the twisty parts of the descent require no braking, so you can pedal and coast at your leisure and not worry about the next turn.

Friday's ride was fun in more ways than one.  Since we were driving to Palm Springs that day, I made do with a 30-minute trainer ride at home.  I multi-tasked by playing Wii with Sophie, while on the bike.

Thursday was ugly.  I'd ridden hard in class on Wednesday, so I knew that I needed a day off.  I also knew that with the Palm Springs trip I wouldn't see my riding friends for two weeks, so I joined them for a 5:00 a.m. ride.  A 5:00 a.m. recovery ride on a cold February morning is a bad idea.  Expending sufficiently little effort to do justice to a recovery ride leaves one very, very cold no matter how much one is wearing.  I was wearing enough for a normal ride, but this was a sub-normal ride and I was cold.  I was cold even while climbing.  I was cold and it was dark and windy as hell.  I've never heard the wind howl in electrical wires as it did that day.  It was louder than normal conversation.  Cold and unhappy, I cut the ride short, got home at 6:30 and got in bed.  It took over an hour to warm up.

I don't remember much about the Wednesday class except that it ended with a cadence build, culminating in an all-out effort, which I topped out at 44.8 mph, which I held for all of five seconds, but still...  This was 18.5 mph faster than my base speed.  Naturally, I was curious how fast I was pedaling.  My base is 26-26.5 mph at 96 rpm.  I asked Kate to help me calculate my cadence.  She said that the rule of thumb is every mile an hour above base is 5.5 to 6.5 rpm.  Averaging that to 6 and multiplying the 6 by 18.5 mph, I arrived at 111 above my base of 96 rpm, or 207 rpm.  To me, this was mind-bogglingly fast.  I didn't think I could pedal over 165, but I went 25% faster.  This information alone, made it a great class, even after Kate told me that Computrainer roller assists the pedaling and I realized that I didn't have to deal with rolling resistance on the front wheel or aerodynamics of riding at over 40 mph.  My legs were turning at over 200 rpm, damn it!

I'd also ridden hard in class on Monday, so Tuesday was a recovery ride at home on the trainer.

Phew, I am caught up again.  I think it's easier to be consistent and post regularly than play catch-up.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Consecutive Hard Rides

Everyone who's anyone tells you not to do consecutive hard days in training.  We get stronger by allowing our bodies to recover, for it is during recovery that we build up strength to better tolerate previous day's workout.  It's true, go look it up.

This doesn't mean that during 366 days of riding I'm not going to do stupid things.  You've seen many examples of on-bike stupidity, so what's another one?  I went to the gym today, thinking I'd see how I feel during the warm-up and if I felt good, I'd do the workout and if not, I'd take it easy and do a recovery day.  Right off the bat, my cadence was through the roof.  I don't know why, but I was riding a good mile an hour faster than normal and, if anything, it felt easier than my normal base pace.  This was all the information I needed to decide on the kind of workout this would be -- a hard one.  We did rollers and steady state efforts again.  I felt good the entire 90 minutes.  Allison, our instructor, polled us about RPE after every steady-state effort.  These were to be in high zone 2 to mid zone 3.  I started out in low 3 and progressed to high 3, as the class went on and I continued to feel good.  Other peoples' RPEs were 8 and my was 7 for the first three efforts and 7.5 during the last one in high zone 3.

After the class, I felt good too.  I walked 10 blocks to BART and the walk felt fine.  There were no seats on the train and as I stood, I felt my legs going dead.  Three hours later they still feel good and swollen, climbing stairs is a chore, and I'm incapable of any respectable effort.  Tomorrow will definitely be a recovery day.  Zone 1, here I come.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

All Over The Place?

[The title is Jeopardy answer to "The places where Vlad has been this week."]

A memorable number, if not a memorable ride, number 222 was 90 minutes at Velo, interrupted by a flat tire.  Wheel replacement took about five minutes, but I got the gist of the workout.  We did rollers -- first longer and easier, then harder and shorter -- climbs in lowish cadences, followed by increased cadence work, as if we were pedaling downhill.  I like these workouts.  I also like climbing and muscle tension work.  I don't like cadence builds so much,  though I'm pretty good at them.

Rides 223 and 225 were similar, so I'm lumping them together:  just a 30-minute zone 1 spin at the gym.

Ride 224 (pay attention, please, we are skipping around) was an early morning 2-hour, conversational jaunt.  Socially enjoyable, occasionally strenuous, and very friendly.

Ride 226 I liked a lot.  I went out in late afternoon just for 45 minutes.  I found a pace that seemed somewhat speedy -- though it could have been not speedy, as I rode without electronics -- and very comfortable.  I rode in a care-free way, gliding up Tunnel and enjoying the views.  The ride put me in an excellent mood and I resolved to ride at the same pace the next day.

What do we do with resolutions made on ride 226?  That's right, on ride 227 we break them.  There were too many cyclists on the road for a care-free ride.  I just could not resist chasing everyone I saw on hills and so I chased.  Everyone.  Successfully.  This made for a spirited ride.  I decided to get the most bang for my buck and went for climbs.  I came up Tunnel (lots of people to chase there), then Grizzly (even more people to chase), down Wildcat, up Papa Bear (a Taleo racer passed me there.  At first I continued at my own pace, but could not resist and sped up.  I began to reel him in, but then about 3/4 of the way up the climb he turned around when he was still about 20 feet ahead of (wimp)), down Papa, up Happy Valley, down Sundown Terrace into Orinda, up El Toyonal/Lomas Cantadas, and back over Grizzly.  This was about a 40-mile ride with 3 miles of flat roads.  I feel good and tired, but good.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend 100 and One

Having ridden 83 miles on Saturday, I wanted to ride at least 17 on Sunday to make it 100 for the weekend.  I didn't get out until the end of the first quarter of the super bowl.  Rode easily past Steam Trains to the top of Grizzly, then back.  Upon return, messed around the neighborhood for half a mile to get to 17 miles, achieving this modest goal.  Legs weren't much after Saturday's long ride, so I didn't push it.

Today, I did a very much recovery ride at the gym in low zone 1.  Tomorrow is day 222.  I'm celebrating it by hiding from the rain in the gym for a 90-minute class.  If today's class's agenda is any indication, tomorrow we'll be doing rollers.  They hurt.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back Again

It IS easier to remember counting backwards, so here I go.

Ride 219 was today.  Howie, David, and I rode to Sunol along 680, then back over Palomares and Redwood on what became an 83-mile day.  I started at 6:00 and picked up my companions along the way.  It was freezing in Orinda and Lafayette with frost on lawns and roofs.  Bravely and unwisely, I wore just a long-sleeve base layer and a windstopper long-sleeve jersey and windstopper gloves.  I had my super-thick wool socks on.  The socks worked pretty well, the gloves did not, but yesterday afternoon and evening were so pleasant and mild, and this morning it was so not-that-cold at my house, that it just did not occur to me that we may encounter temperatures in mid to high 30s.  By the time we returned it was a little after noon and nearly 30 degrees warmer and my clothes felt just right.

We had a mellow and chatty ride.  On the flat from Walnut Creek almost to Sunol, where we could have ridden 21 mph, we rode 18-19.  When we weren't talking, we were hydrating.  Boy, were we hydrating.  I've never been on a ride with so many bathroom breaks, at least not since I'd seen Monty Python's Marathon for the Incontinent.  But drinking well, eating well, and riding at controlled pace left us with good legs.  I felt good climbing Palomares and, with 75 miles in my legs, climbed Redwood very strongly.

Ride 218: Just a half an hour recovery ride on the trainer.

Ride 217: First class at VeloSF's new location on Broadway.  Exercise studios are bright, with good natural light.  Space in the studios is a little tighter.  The gym smells of paint and windows don't open, so it'll smell painty for a while.  We did 70 minutes of slow cadence work in big gears.  Lots of pushing and lots of attempted circular pedaling to engage as many muscles as possible.  There was some engagement.  It was hard.  We were all glad it was over.

Ride 216: Easy half an hour on the trainer again.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Four Backward...

Ride 215: An hour and a half outside for the much-liked and seldom ridden Tilden golf course lasso loop:  going out on Tunnel, Grizzly, down Golf Course, up Shasta and back on Grizzly, Skyline and Snake.  I rode hard, enjoyed the effort, and was happy to have broken 15mph, doing it in 15.1.  This got me to thinking again about motivation.  When I ride alone I ride harder than I do with friends and I like it when I am riding harder.  Yet when the group raises its speed from conversational -- to, for example, the speed I rode today -- I grumble, maybe because someone interrupted my conversation.  Maybe it's a control thing and I resent having to ride at someone else's pace but don't mind going at that pace on my own?

Ride 214: Half an hour in zone 1 at the gym, though still broke a sweat.

Ride 213: Redwood-Pinehurst with Howie in the big ring.  Decided that Sunday ride would be a big ring ride and I rode it not just in the big ring, but also in small cogs.  The big is a 48 and the smalls were in 13-16 range, except I had to shift into 19-ish on North Pinehurst to avoid stalling and toppling over and a new entry for the "Crash!" post.  Having made it up North Pinehurst in 48x19, riding the flat portion of Skyline in that gear felt sublimely smooth and easy.  Maybe that's the purpose of big ring training?

Ride 212: Redwood-Pinehurst without Tunnel, climbing the Oakland side of the ridge on Butters with Paul's Saturday group.  Did not go to Moraga with the guys, turning back toward Oakland at the Pinehurst/Canyon intersection with Arnie.  We had a mellow-paced and chatty return leg and I discovered that Arnie is a neighbor and a nice guy.  Will likely see more of him on the road in the future.


Friday, January 27, 2012

What's the 211?

The 211 was 75 minutes at Velo, doing climbs alternating with steady state efforts.  Climbs felt almost easy -- yes, I my tire pressure and trainer calibration were fine, thank you -- while the steady state efforts felt easier as they went along even though I pushed the last one well into zone 4 for five minutes.  I am sure that these good sensations, as the Euros call them, had much to do with the lowest classroom temperature I've experienced in my 13 months at the club.  Very excited to have ridden so strongly.  A bit disappointed with the realization that my body is not great at temperature regulation and I probably need to wear less to prevent overheating -- brrrr.  Cautiously hopeful that the club will keep temperature down at its new location around the corner and up two blocks, starting on day 214.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inside and Out

Inside (ride 209) was nothing much, just a 35-minute spin at the gym.  I tried to keep my cadence up and power down while others in the class worked hard.

Ride 210 was memorable, however.  For some time, I've admired this Palmans-Collstrop jersey.  I've looked for it half-heartedly from time to time, never trying terribly enthusiastically.  It's obscure enough that it was never available widely and when I saw it, it was priced silly high.  Last week, I googled the jersey for some reason and found it available in my size, steeply discounted.  I pounced and it arrived yesterday.  It fits perfectly, it's lightly fleecy, making it warm but not too warm, just perfect for riding almost year-round in the Bay Area, which has no winter and no summer.

I wore it this on this morning's very foggy, not wintry ride, and I will say unabashedly that I looked mahvellous.  Perhaps inspired by my dress blue, I rode mahvellously.  Yeah, it was so foggy that it drizzled and visibility stunk, but I just spun up hills and took it REALLY easy on descents, which I could barely see.

I had such a good time that I really wanted to ride more today, seriously considering going to the gym for an interval session, but decided to abstain.  Better to have a good ride and want more than do too much and be wasted.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Hey, a consecutive day with a post!  Woo-hoo.  Ride 208 was 90 minutes in class that included a 70-minute continuous working interval with a few brief rest periods thrown in.  I did high zone 3 efforts in very low zone 4 just for the hell of it, focusing on spinning big gears to the extent I could and breathing VERY deeply.  These tricks seemed to work -- there was an epiphany moment when hammering suddenly became much easier for the last two minutes of the final hard effort.  About 7.5 on RPE scale.  Supposedly the week's next workout is harder.  Stay tuned for report of ride number 210.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Two oh Seven

207 and counting.

Ride 207 was 40  minutes on the trainer with a hard 20+ minutes in there.  This was the hardest I've ridden the trainer at home in the last 207 days.  Focused on spinning a relatively big gear.  It worked well and I felt pretty good and very sweaty.

Ride 206 was a half-hour recovery on the trainer at home from ride 205. 

Ride 205 was a (sadly) rare outdoor outing, during which I decided to climb Manzanita Road three times from both directions.  Manzanita is about 0.15 of a mile and it climbs at ~17% above the top of North Pinehurst to the highest point on Skyline Drive in Oakland hills.  This hill may be the highest point in Oakland.  I peered across other hills on the ridge and it was close.  Diablo Drive at the Skyline-Grizzly intersection may be a smidge higher -- I couldn't tell.  Manzanita's north side is longer and steeper.  I could tell after a couple of attempts on each side.  After the second ascent of the north side, I felt as if I was in a good news-bad news joke: I was half-way done, but this sucker was really taking it out of me.  I managed to complete the workout, glad that the last climb was on the easier southern side.  That said, my 30-tooth chainring proved very handy, as I managed to remain seated and tried spinning for all six intervals.  So, legs didn't hurt as much as when I used to climb this road in higher gears, though I that cardiovascular quality of the workout did not lessen.

It had rained and the wind blew strongly the previous night.  There were TONS of crap -- gravel, leaves, twigs, needles, eucalyptus bark and acorns, and just plain mud on the road -- so I had to take my Manzanita descents carefully, picking my way around the debris.  The wonderful thing was that I had San Francisco frame builder Dan Nelson raise the brake bridge 7 millimeters and now crap did not get stuck under my brake bridge.  For the first time, the bike did not impede my climbing on crap-strewn roads.  I wore a big smile when I realized what I was missing.

Ride 204 was a 40-minute high zone 1 -- low zone 2 spin at the gym.

Ride 203 was a 50-minute ride at the gym, which included one 10-minute interval and then I had to go, so I missed the others, but that was OK because I'd done them during Ride 202.  

And ride 202 had three lengthy intervals with much time in zone 4 at low cadences.  I tolerated this pretty well.  Not sure if I was having a good day or whether my legs prefer lower cadences.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Sharks win their 201st shootout with me on the trainer.  I watched the third period and the overtime.  Sharks tied it at 1:1 in the third, then were robbed by the refs in overtime, but kept it together for the shootout, which they won 2:0 over the Flames.


Monday, January 16, 2012

200 Backwards

Today was ride number 200.  Jessica and I did 20 miles on the Bay Trail, round-trip from Berkeley-Emeryville border to Richmond.  Crystal-clear and a bit chilly day with light winds and gorgeous views of the bay, Marin, East Bay hills, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in wonderful company.  A great way to celebrate number 200.

Ride 199 was and easy half an hour on the trainer.

Ride 198 was a minor epic.  Jeff came to Oakland and we rode to the top of Mt. Diablo and back.  It cool leaving my house, then quite warm climbing Tunnel, the freezing from the foot of North Pinehurst to the foot of Diablo (north side), then we had good climbing temperatures.  I felt pretty good until the North Gate-South Gate junction, where my climbing legs deserted me and I slowed down.  Made it to the top without major problems and we retraced out steps to the house with a minor detour of South Pinehurst, Redwood, and Skyline.  I drank and ate inadequately and probably paid for it on the climb.  I only went through two bottles of fluids and one flask of gel.  Obviously, not enough.

Ride 197 was half an hour on the trainer on Friday.

Ride 196 was a leg ripper early Thursday morning.  Brian declared at the outset that he was feeling tired, then proceeded to attack repeatedly.  I had legs just good enough to follow.  I almost wish I'd felt worse and hadn't followed.

Ride 195 was a Wednesday class.  It was hard enough that I couldn't do the last interval, so I just sat on the bike and turned the legs enthusiastically, but much slower and at minimal resistance.  We did simulated climbs that became progressively harder and longer with very short breaks.  I think it was the short breaks that did me in.

Rides 194 and 193, were a class that's very hazy in my memory and half an hour at home respectively.


Monday, January 9, 2012


I need to post more often, as it is becoming harder to remember what the heck I've been doing.  I can recreate the last five rides, however.  Today's ride will be the subject of another post.

On Wednesday, I came into the club for half an hour on the trainer.  It was completely mellow and I read the Lava magazine's story of 2010 Ironman World Championship as I pedaled.  I had no idea there was a Lava magazine.  It was a mellow and informative way to spend half an hour.

On Thursday, I did a super-duper early morning ride from 4:35 a.m. to 7:00, culminating in 20 minutes at a very warm Montclair Peet's with Howie.  The five-minute ride home was freezing!

On Friday, I went back to the club and, as they say in Europe, I was having "good sensations" in my legs, so I rode hard.  I rode hard and riding hard felt fairly easy.  Everyone was sweating up a storm, while I was merely perspiring.  About 45 minutes into the 60-minute class, I discovered that my rear tire was soft, explaining everything, including why the ride felt easy.  I pumped up the tire, but it deflated to around 30 pounds within five minutes.  By then the class was nearly over and I got a workout anyway.

A seven-hour weekend followed.  On Saturday, I took a very pleasant one-hour afternoon ride up Tunnel, across Skyline and down Joaquin Miller.  On Sunday, we did a circuitous version of Fruit Stand.  We went up Spruce, down Wildcat, then climbed Papa Bear and Happy Valley.  We stopped for coffee in Lafayette, where David and Howie peeled of for home and Brian and I headed south.  The flat portion from Lafayette to San Ramon was nice and mellow.  It was getting warmer too and we enjoyed the pace and the weather.  I pulled medium to medium-hard on Crow Canyon from Norris intersection to Castro Valley.  We hopped over to Redwood and were climbing at a conversational pace, when a rider with full Webcor kit passed us.  I was content to let him go, but Brian was not and I followed.  The three of us jammed to the top.  At the top, we let him go and continued to South Pinehurst.  There, we turned right and climbed toward Moraga.  Half-way up, two guys caught up and passed and we went with them again.  One of them is Bart, a neighborhood master's racer, who was an age-group State Champion a few years ago.  Bart's friend went really hard with Brian on his wheel.  Bart and I rode and talked until a hundred yards before the crest, where Bart sprinted.  I chewed on my stem and hung on -- barely.  I'm in good, not great shape.  Bart is 70.

We descended together and parted at the bottom.  Bart's group was riding "around the world" and we returned to Oakland through Canyon and up North Pinehurst.  Brian suggested we not play puppy dogs and not chase anyone who comes in view on the climb or passes us.  I agreed that after nearly six hours this would be a good idea.  On the long false flat that precedes the climb we sensed someone approaching.  We sped up just a bit and he seemed content to hang there, using us to pace him.  We began climbing, with our shadow still behind us, but breathing heavier.  We refused to look back to acknowledge him.  The string seemed to stretch as the road steepened, though we still heard distant sounds of panting.  Completely abandoning our plan, we went hard at on the last steep bit when we saw two riders ahead.  Our shadow vanished as we passed those two.

As we rode along Skyline, we chuckled at our inability to not chase.  I wished Brian a good rest of Sunday, as I turned left and downhill, heading home.  It was a great ride and I felt pretty good the rest of the day.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to the Routine

Yesterday, I managed to get out for an hour as the sun was setting.  It was chilly, but pleasant.  Five minutes into the ride I caught up with my neighbor and occasional riding partner Chris.  Chris had a frightening crash two months ago.  His pedal spindle snapped and he went over the handlebars, landing on his head, or so he thinks because he has no recollection of the crash.  He only knows that he woke up lying in the middle of Skyline Drive at Thornhill intersection with people trying to revive him.  His helmet shattered, as it was designed to do and his body had nary a scratch, which is how he deduced that his head took the entire impact.  He spent three days in ICU and two months in physical therapy.  He had frequent headaches and dizziness episodes, which have waned somewhat recently.  It was good to see him, especially in light of what had happened.

Chris was on his cyclocross bike, which he took on a dirt path when we reached the Skyline Gate of Redwood Regional Park, so we said our goodbyes.  The clouds turned from white to pink to flaming red.  I turned on my blinky and my helmet light and descended Thornhill, Colton, and Mountain back home.

Today, I went to back to VeloSF for the first class of 2012.  Today's class was the first in a new 12-week training block.  Theoretically, blocks start out easy, build to higher intensities and taper somewhat at the end before ramping up again.  Maybe I haven't been riding enough or sleeping enough or had lunch too close to the class, but this class absolutely kicked my butt.  We did a continuous 70-minute ride broken into climbing and steady-state 8 to 12 minute intervals.  I managed to hang for an hour, but had to back off for the final 10 minutes, as I was completely spent.  No matter, I'm with Scarlet O'Hara, tomorrow is another (188th) day.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Six months and change down, a bit less than half to go.  It's been nine days since I last wrote, so I'll have to work backwards to recreate my riding.

Today, I did a neighborhood tandem ride with Sophie.  The ride was very nice, just as our rides at Disneyland over the last few days.  At DL, we did the Pooh ride four times, Tea Cups twice, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Ariel, California Flyover (not its real name), Bugs, Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion, and a few others.  On Matterhorn, I figured out at least Matterhorn-caliber roller-coasters: lean into the turn and look at the car in front and the stomach and inner ear remain calm.  Very exciting, as normally, I am a weak-stomached, dizziness prone roller-coaster passenger.

Yesterday, I did half an hour on the trainer.

December 30, 29, 28, and 27 I did half an hour on hotel exercise bikes.  December 26, I did 45 minutes in Oakland hills.  December 25, I did a couple of hours with David in the hills.  December 24, I think I did half an hour on the trainer.

Math: July -- 31 days; August -- 31 days; September -- 30 days; October -- 31 days; November -- 30 days; December -- 31 days; January -- 1 day.  Total: 185.  181 to go.  There's a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel!