Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

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.