Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

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.