We ended up with around 10" of snow in Indianola from this little storm that originally was forecast to sprinkle us with an inch or two.  The ten inches resulted in 2 days of public schools being closed (not Simpson though as we powered through it all) and hopefully added plenty of moisture now for a good start to the spring - which is coming up soon.

I'm flying to Stuttgart today and will hop on the S2 Bahn at the airport to head east and stay in this little "village" (40K residents) outside of Stuttgart...


Looks like the forecast for the next week (I land on Friday) is for mid 40's to the low 50's - so I am packing for that scenario (going with layers, rather than bringing my huge winter coat).

Stuttgart Weather

I'll be doing a little traveling within Germany for work while I am there.  I'm bringing my rain gear as well to be prepared along with my best walking shoes.

Luckily, Zack arrived home last night 2 hours earlier than previously scheduled due to their final concert in Kansas being canceled on account of a snow.  That allowed us to have a birthday dinner and cake last night even though his birthday is today.

Who knows what kind of internet access I will have (my guess is sporadic at best) on the trip, so I may post up some pictures and updates of what I am doing over there, or it may all have to wait until I get back in March.

Auf Wiedersehen.....


Now we have snow!!!

Sure - close school last week when there was no snow.  Today, we have tons of snow and school (Simpson) was open for business even though driving in it was much more precarious than the storm last week that didn't hit until after school was closed. 


Heavy, wet snow today - and lots of it.  I've shoveled and cleared the driveway and walks 3 times so far and it all needs to be done again as it is still coming down.  Looks like we are around 6 inches+ of accumulation at the moment heading into the night.   This is wet, snow man making snow.  Talk about a good core workout to shovel the stuff!!!

Indianola schools were let out at 10:30 am, but Simpson forged ahead which was fine with me once I got there.   The city of Indianola had not plowed the streets in my neighborhood when I left for work at 10:20.  It was not easy going up the steep hills in my neighborhood unless one had 4 wheel drive.  I made it to work and slogged through the day until 6 p.m. with a huge "to do list" that I barely attacked.   I stopped at Wal-mart after work to get a care package to take to Germany on Thursday. Then I stopped to get 2 gallons of gas for the snow blower so I could clear things once again on Wednesday morning.  Tara made a wonderful lasagna with ground turkey and Graziano's sausage which hit the spot.

It's official.  I caught the first bug I've had in about 18 months.  A slight post-nasal drip and slight sore throat which I have been managing today with some Mucinex Cold, Flu and Sore Throat elixir.  Thus far, it's a pretty mild illness which didn't even bother my singing yesterday or today, but it does bother me at night with all the phlegm.  I did 30 minutes of L2 this morning, shoveled 3 times, did lower body weights (squats, dead lifts, leg extensions, hamstring curls) before diving into the lasagna, bread and wine.

I attacked the "to do list" after dinner and got about 1/2 way through it.  I will tackle the rest tomorrow which also includes packing.  10 day forecast in Stuttgart is 41 to 52, so I will pack appropriately.  I'll bring rain gear, walking shoes, hat, gloves and what not.

My memory is terrible.  I couldn't find my cell phone today and figured it must have fallen out of my coat pocket last night at rehearsal in Des Moines.  I stewed about it all day at work and hated having to go through the process of getting a new one.  I had Tara call my phone after I got home from work to see if I could find it in the house or out in the snow.  Low and behold, it was in a pocked of a jacket I swear I did not wear to rehearsal last night.  Go figure!  I can't even remember what jacket I wore less than 24 hours ago....

Zack's 20th birthday is Thursday - the same day I leave for Germany.  We have his present which should arrive on Thursday itself via FedEx.  We'll be making a nice cheesecake for him tomorrow and he should arrive home from his trip to Colorado with the Simpson Madrigals and Chamber Singers around 8 p.m.  if all goes right.  However, they are driving through Kansas and the areas that got hit with several feet of snow the last week - so who knows when they will actually arrive.

I am knee deep at work advising students for fall semester classes.  Oy!  One more day and then I am hopping on a jet plane or two to go speak another language and maybe even enjoy a real beer or two in der Vaterland...


Weekend Warrior mode...

I capped off the week in my weekend warrior mode on Saturday and Sunday.  I had wanted to ride in the CIRREM event, but due to our scholarship auditions on Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm at Simpson, I couldn't participate.  We actually finished our auditions by about 4:15 on Saturday, so I ran home to get my workout in before dinner.

I had 2 options that were on the training schedule and went with option B - 90 minutes of Zone 2 riding.  I did this on the C7i trainer in the basement with the fans on full blast to keep me cool.  I moved around using various cadences and worked the entire gamut of Zone 2 in terms of wattage.  Physically I was fine, but it was a bit of a mental struggle to knock out 90 minutes on the trainer especially since the sun was shining outside.  But I made it through the workout for weekend warrior workout number 1.  I burned off the donut and cookie I had eaten (both no-no's) at the auditions.  We should provide apples, nuts, etc... rather than the junk food.   Zack left for Denver with the Simpson Madrigal/Chamber Singer tour and Alexa had a dinner date, so Tara and I drove up to Des Moines for dinner.  We thought about seeing Quartet, but would have been about 10 minutes late, so went home and watched Dreamgirls instead.

Sunday was to be a big day involving smoking 2 chickens, getting a 3 hour ride in outside for my 2nd weekend warrior workout, shopping for our son's birthday present and of course - watching the Academy Awards.  I woke up with the beginning twinges of a very mild sore throat.  I wasn't sure if it was from reflux or if I was getting a bug.  The rest of me felt fine, so I went on about my day.  I stopped at Hy-Vee and picked up the two chickens.  I got the fire in the Green Egg going, put the rub on the chickens, made the aromatics to keep them moist and put the birds on at 12 noon.  Tara and Alexa went shopping without me since it was clear I wasn't going to be able to get the timing of the birds correct with our shopping trip.

My goal was to make the two birds turn out more moist than the "smokin' chicks" I did a month earlier.  Here were those lovely birds...


As good as they were, they did not turn out as moist as I wanted them to be.

I built a better fire this time, got the temperature just right, made an olive oil, beer, lemon, spice aromatic, drenched the birds in olive oil, salt and pepper and stuck a potato in the top of the neck to lock in the juices and moisture from the aromatics.

While they were shopping and the birds were smoking, my training ride called for 3 hours of a hilly ride in Zone 2/3.  Luckily, Warren County plows and clears the Summerset Trail from Indianola down to Summerset road (just before Banner Pits) due to a decision in 2011 to clear this portion of the road for walkers, joggers, cyclists as noboby was really cross country skiing on it.  Being that it is uphill from Summerset to Indianola, I figured I could ride it at least 3 times along with some other hills.  I got kitted up and since it was about 36 degrees outside - I didn't have to wear too many layers to keep warm as there was very litle wind and the sun was blaring.

The trail looks like this during the fall/winter when the snow is melted...


The trip is 26.x miles from our house to Carlisle and back.  I took off at 12:40 and was surpised how pleasant it was outside.  I hammered all the hills in Zone 3 on the way to the trail and only hit a few patches of ice/snow on the road in town.  The trail was bone dry as when we shoveled on Friday, the sun did an amazing job of burning things dry on the pavement.  If that had not happened, here's what Summerset can look like if the bottom layer is ice...


Luckily, that was not the scenario this weekend.  The trail was dry from edge to edge.  There were quite a few people out jogging and walking, but very few bikes (I think I saw a total or 4 cyclists all day).  I did have a near miss with one lady who had her small dog on one of those long retractable leashes.  Of course, we all hate those leashes because they don't keep the dog next to the owner on a multi-use trail.  I nearly hit the dog who came after me and it was either hit the dog, or pull off in the snow.  I pulled off in the snow and managed to stay upright.  I had called out far in advance to the woman, but she made no attempt to "retract" the leash and get the dog close to her.  I gave her a stare, but managed to not voice an opinion as I knew I would have blurted out something unkind.

I rode down to Summerset and saw across the road that the trail had not been plowed.  Just as I thought - a trip to Carlisle was not in the cards.  An older picture depicting what it sort of looked like yesterday (only difference being the sun was in full shine yesterday, not a grey day like this picture was)...


So, I turned around and did the 20 minute climb back up to Indianola.  I was on the road bike and covering ground quite quickly in Zone 2/3.  Once in town, I rode the trail out to the softball fields as it had been plowed as well and this extension has some good hills on it which were perfect for my workout.  I turned around at the end of that trail and headed back to Summerset road.  Turned around again and rode back to Indianola.

I headed over to Simpson and filled up my water bottle in the music building as I was out of water.  I hopped back on the bike and rode back to Summerset for my 3rd trip, turned around and about 1/2 back to Indianola (2 1/2 hours at this point), I felt everything start to shut down.  I had not been drinking enough water and wasn't taking any fuel in on this ride.  I should have used some endurolytes and a protein mix, or some gels - but I didn't plan very well.  So I sort of backed it off into survival mode for the final 1/2 hour ride home.

I hopped on the scale after the ride to confirm my suspicion that I had lost a lot of fluid due to the winter gear increasing my sweating rate.  Sure enough, instead of my normal 2 pound water loss, I had lost a bit more than 4 pounds with the effort and not taking in enough fluids on the ride.  Needless to say, I've been here before and felt it.  I started hydrating and continued that for the rest of the day.   Weekend Warrior rides were in the bag and I move into a recovery period which will be extended due my trip to Germany.  I will do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday's workouts and then be off the bike for 10 days where I will be walking, stretching and maybe getting a few recovery spins in at the hotel (if they have a bike).

Back to the birds...

I took the birds off at 4 1/2 hours as they were perfect.  I took a shower, fed the dogs and cleaned up the kitchen.  Tara and Alexa arrived and the cooking feast began.  Tara made a pizza with mango, smoked chicken, basil, home made cream sauce, goat cheese and spices.  I took the meat off the bones and WOW!!!  Total success was achieved as the birds were super moist inside and out.  We did all of this as we watched the Red Carpet pre-Awards show.  Once the pizza was out, we settled down to watch the Academy Awards which we really enjoyed. 

As far as weekends go, this one was busy, satisfying and enjoyable.  I thought I would get started on 2012 taxes, but no such luck.  That will start soon....


Friday Fun!!!

Yes, I was harsh yesterday chastising central Iowa for shutting down on Thursday before the first snowflake had actually fallen.  I've never seen that before in all the prior 10 years of snowstorms here in Iowa.  Thursday's storm turned out to be a lot tamer than everyone thought it was going to be and things were back to normal today with sunshine, and normality.  In fact, it turned into a very fun Friday!!!

I got up and put the shovel and snowblower to work so Tara could get to work and the kids could get to school.  Oh, and I guess I forgot about me.  I had to get to work as well.  :-)

Max and Zoey played in the snow while I shoveled and they love to run in front of the snow blower to get covered in snow.   All of that had Zoey pooped and she took a picture in a state of repose after I was finished moving the snow off the driveway and walks....

Max & Zoey after shoveling

The sun melted all the rest off and the sidewalks, driveways and streets were dry a few hours later as the sun went to work.  I substituted the 50 mintues of shoveling for my core workout and took the dogs on a walk with me while riding the singlespeed for 20 minutes.   I figure those 2 activities covered my 30 minute recovery spin and 30 minute core work/stretching that was scheduled for today's workouts.  Shoveling is a really good workout and I was perspiring heavily by the end of the 50 minutes.

I sang tonight at the Music Weekend Student/Faculty Concert for our prospective students and their families.  We have a record number auditioning Friday and Saturday - but the weather did alter 2/3rd's of those that were supposed to come on Friday.  Luckily, most that missed Friday are coming tomorrow now that the roads are clear and everything is shoveled out from the "storm".  As far as "storms" go, it was the weakest one of the 2012/13 winter season to date.  Certainly not worthy of shutting everything down.

Zack heads to Colorado tomorrow with the Madrigal Singers and Chamber Singers from Simpson.  I'll be in auditions all day and then hit the trainer around 5 pm before dinner.

All the best to all those doing CIRRUM tomorrow!!  If I didn't have the auditions tomorrow, I would have signed up to ride CIRRUM.   Weather and conditions look to be perfect.  Have fun.


HTFU Iowa!!!!

It's winter.  Get over it!!!!!

The pussification of America continues.  Schools were shut down today a bit after lunch and things got out early, closed, shut the doors, etc... all because a little snow storm was blowing in from the southwest.  Please!  I've lived here 10 years now and remember storms that have dumped 1, 2 and even nearly 3 feet of snow.  Nothing closed for those storms before the snow even arrived.

The media blitz about storms is getting out of hand.  Or at least I think they are.  Talk about lemmings going over the cliff this time around.  Pussies!!!  There.  I've said it.  America needs to HTFU!!!  Snow, storms, etc... happen.  We've survived up to this point without running for cover before the snow even arrives all these centuries.  Why are we running for cover now?

Simpson closed at 3 pm even though it was barely starting to snow.  I told all of my students to forget about it, I was teaching my normal lesson schedule until 5 pm when the day ended for me on my normal schedule.  I did so, and then drove home in light snow that barely was 1/2" to 1" on the ground.  Why all the concern to close things down so early in the day?  Please.  Overcautious?  Wanting an excuse to not work?  What's up with our society concerning all this fascination and technology of predicting winter weather?  Everyone is now going to just run for the hills every time it snows a few inches!!!  The streets were salted, sprayed and prepped hours before anything happened?  What's next?  We'll be shoveling snow out of the air before it hits the ground?.....

PLEASE!!!!  All this for 5" of snow????!!!!


Okay.  Enough of that.  I made beef stew this morning and put it in the crock pot to cook all day.  It was ready for dinner in a major a la New Orleans style thanks to a recipe from Emeril Lagasse.  The recipe is here.  It was very nice and spicy!!!  And major Yum.


Yesterday was a 45 minute recovery in the morning and a weight session in the evening of power cleans, pushpress barbells, glute bridges, box blasts, and core work.  Form and technique are "awkward" for me on some of those, but what a great workout.  It took a full hour to complete everything and most of the exercises/lifts are things I have never done before in my life.  Score for working new things.

Today was a Level 4 Power Zone workout day.  1:15 on the bike (indoor trainer that is) with a good warm-up and then 4 x 8 minutes in Zone 4 with a 2 minute rest between in Zone 1 Power.  I knocked out 3 at 240-245 watts and 1 at 260 watts before cooling down for 15 minutes and hitting the shower.  My heart rate averaged 155 and eventually topped out at 164 during all of that, so I felt pretty good about completing what was on the menu for torture today.  32 minutes of Zone 4 work in February is good.  I did drop about 2.x pounds during the workout from the sweat, but that is about right for me if I look at a 75 mintue race in the summer heat.


Our Music Weekend for prospective students at Simpson is tomorrow and Saturday, but the weather and all the closings may put a damper on attendance (unfortunately).  We had a record number of students signed up to attend and audition before the little snow rolled in....

Hopefully, streets and roads will be plowed by early morning and we can continue as planned.  I am singing a duet with my colleague Virginia Croskery from The Phantom of the Opera on the Friday evening concert.  We didn't get a chance to rehearse it today with the school closing at 3 and our accompanist heading home to Des Moines, but we'll be fine as we've done it before.

Tomorrow is 30 minutes recovery on the bike in the a.m. and 30 mintues of core work in the evening.  I should be able to get that done according to plan in spite of the evening 7:30 pm concert.


Debonair.....or just getting older?

Tara took a shot of me sitting in a very handsome green chair at the Hoyt Sherman Place while waiting to sing Some Enchanted Evening and All I Ask of You on Saturday night at the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble Cabaret event.


The hair is greyer, the experience deeper, and - well, my old tuxedos still fit after all these decades.

Speaking of staying fit....

After the initial drop from the mid 190's, I seem to be currently "stuck" at 188 pounds.  The weight lifting (which is divided up between 3 days per week) is making me ravenous.  The increased metabolism that goes along with it has my appetite going off the charts.  The weekly training load has increased beyond 10 hours and increases my hunger as well.  Combined forces of satisfying my hunger means my weight is stagnant for the moment.

My goal remains to be at 185 for the first race of the season and then drift down to 180 or sub 180 as the season progresses.  I did that fairly easily in 2008, 2009, and 2010 (other years that included a similar off season training plan like I am doing this year) so am pretty sure if I keep my fingers out of the pie I can do it again.  I'm eating very healthy things, just too much at the moment!!!  After this week, I have one more month of base training before moving into the first build phase.

Once the weight lifting trims back to a single weekly maintenance session and my body "feeds" on the muscular growth as the season progresses. I usually see a drop of 5 or so pounds without changing anything else in my diet and training.  I know that is coming, so if I can trim down to 185 by the start of racing I should be in my target zone.  The problem is that the plates are still being added on the Olympic bar which means muscles are going to grow and gain a bit more weight the next few weeks.  Those prior years of 2008-2010 with a similar lifting program, I began the season at 190 pounds due to the muscular growth.  I think I can fight it and keep my target at 185, but I'll have to lay off the "see it and eat it" current campaign I am on for sure.

Monday was Man Day...

I felt like a grumpy man on Monday.  The effort of Sunday's 3 hour ride caught up to me and Monday was exactly what I needed - a day off the bike.  I managed to pull myself out of the grumps by dinner time.  I can't say I was real fun to be around during the day, but I let all my students now from the outset I was a bit grumpy and made fun of myself.

I did my scheduled weight lifting after the evening rehearsal as I had planned.  This meant, I loaded up the plates and was squatting and deadlifting from 9 - 10 pm along with core work.  I've worked my way beyond my body weight and am in the 200's now.  I managed to skip my afternoon coffee and I had no alcohol in the evening, but in spite of that - the late night lifting session didn't bode well for my sleep pattern.  I sort of tossed and turned and was up bright-eyed around 3 am before managing to fall back asleep and eventually roll out of bed at 8 for the morning dog walk.  Late in the evening is not the most ideal time to lift if it is going to cause a rugged, manly night of sleep.  Next week, I will do the weights in the morning before work which means I will need to do my Sunday ride in the morning so I can recover in time for the Monday morning weight lifting.

Tuesday was sluggish...

All I had to knock out was 60 minutes of Zone 1 and Zone 2 with some short sprints mixed in on Tuesday.  I came home after work and hopped on the trainer.  Legs felt dead and the effort to turn over 142 watts was telling.  But, I knocked it out by varying cadence and working the top end of Zone 1 and the low end of Zone 2 with Tara next to me on the other trainer as we watched the news on the television to keep us entertained.

Did I mention I was ravenous for dinner afterwards?  ;-)  Not to mention, I was sound asleep by 10:00 and didn't move a muscle until Tara's alarm went off at 5:30 this morning.

A short recovery spin of 30-45 this morning before work, then weights (different muscle groups) tonight after work and before dinner this time.  And we are having Schnitzel for dinner which is always a huge treat in our house now that we don't live in Austria where it is on every corner.


Who did not get out on the bike for the sunshine and mid-Winter fun yesterday?

Did you get yours?

The forecast was for a Sunday filled with sunshine and Winter respite temperatures nearing 50 degrees.  Even with the strong wind blowing out of the SE, it only took a base layer and an outer layer of clothing to get out and enjoy a nice long ride.

I got the road bike out with the "jacked up for RAGBRAI" stem to do this ride.  Luckily, we only hit one patch of snow and ice that were still across the trail between Banner and Carlisle.


Tara and I headed out around 1 pm after temperatures had climbed up into the 40's.  Goal was Carlisle and back for the two of us, and I had it in mind to get 3 hours in on the bike (2 1/2 in Zone 2 and 30 minutes in Zone 3).  I think everybody - and their dog - was out on the trail doing the same thing:  "getting some mid-Winter sunshine and exercise".  I had a large water bottle with some protein mixed in (Hammer Nutrition Strawberry) to fuel me for the 3 hours and a pair of GU's in case I needed a boost at some point.   Our daughter hooked up with a friend and they loaded up their bikes in the back of a Ford pickup to drive down to Banner Pits and ride from there to Carlisle and back, then go for a run.  Sort of a cross-training day for both these track stars.

The wind was howling and pretty much blew us all the way to Carlisle as we visited and navigated our way around all the people out for walks, runs, and bike rides.  I don't think I hardly even had to pedal with that wind.  Even in the big ring on the road bike and one of the smaller cogs, I was barely on the edge of Zone 2.  We saw the girls had parked their bikes in Carlisle to get a snack mid-ride, so we rode over and said hello to them before turning around to face the wind.  Tara told me to go ahead and ride on ahead of her so I could get my Zone 3 in for the day.  I popped a peanut butter GU and said "okay".  It wasn't hard to do that with the strong wind blowing in my face as I headed south out of Carlisle.  I motored on in what I hoped was Zone 3 and not crossing over into Zone 4 as I pushed it against the wind.  Heart rate, drool factor, feeling in the legs, and my breathing rate all confirmed I was well above Zone 2, so I kept it there.  I did a loop on the pavement in Banner, and then had the hill to climb from Banner back to Indianola.  I finished with 35 minutes in Zone 3 and then backed it down to Zone 2 just as I caught up with another cyclist who was wobbling around on the pavement due to the wind.  Turned out to be my colleague Ron Albrecht out for his 1st ride of the year.  So I rode back to Indianola with him and visited.

I got home and realized I had only put in a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes, so I took the dogs for a 15 minute walk with me riding the singlespeed to get a bit more burn than a geared bike.  Got back home after that and headed immediately downstairs to the trainer to put in 30 more minutes of Zone 2 on the trainer.  I stripped off the outer layers down to my kit and hopped on the bike.  I locked on to the 172-190 watt range and kept drinking my water with the fan blowing on me for the 30 minutes.  I was on an exercise induced high from the release of all those endorphins and felt like I could have easily gone another hour+.   However, I knew I had finished the week correctly with 10:50 of training and had not crossed the line to be bushed (like I was the previous week due to fighting off some kind of bug) - so no point in pushing beyond the 3 hour ride.  I got off the bike and made some mid afternoon lunch and then followed up with a shower.

A nice recovery pasta with salmon for dinner, and then I spent an hour working on the Bloch Sacred Service music for tonight's rehearsal.  No time to hit today's scheduled workout until this evening.  Today is about an hour of weights (squats, deadlifts, core....) which I will do when I get back home from Des Moines after the Bloch rehearsal.  The week ahead is a bit more training stress than the week I just finished (12:05 hours compared to 10:50) before next week's Rest & Recovery week.  Looks like the majority of it will be inside as the weather forecast sounds like a winter storm is headed this way to dump 7 - 12" of snow.  The snowblower and operator are ready....


FTP take 2....NO FLOP this time!!!!

Due to last Sunday's FTP Flop because I was fighting a little something-something along with a massive headache, body ache, muscle tenderness and what not - I had to run it again.  For my own sake and peace of mind.

I was feeling a lot better on Saturday due to whatever it was I was fighting the prior weekend having gone away.  Thursday's workout in Zone 4 confirmed I really needed to do this test again on the weekend because I was creating a lot more power with no struggle.  And, I needed more accurate results from an FTP test to set the next 6 weeks of training.  I tinkered with the set up on the LeMond bike with a much better fit (got the seat angle/tilt/distance dialed in right).  This allowed me to physically and mentally stay "fresher" on that contraption.  Two floor fans going at full blast to help keep me cool.

Now a bit of reality check related to this silly blog.   Here's an important opening paragraph of my first post on this blog back in 2007 worth repeating again today...

I admit that I have been meaning to kick start this little blog for quite some time to use as an online journal where I can keep track of the insanity I find myself involved in for exercise, physical torture and cycling. I'm not sure if I really have any grand lofty goals for the blog or even an inkling of an idea where it might actually lead, but "it is what it is" for now.

Score one for my online journal since my memory is not so grand.  I checked back with my power numbers of previous years during FTP work, MSP intervals and what not.  And yes, everything was confirmed that last Sunday's FTP numbers were not the best to use for setting my training sessions for the next 6 weeks.  I feared that I would not be getting the training stress I needed if I based the next 6 weeks on last weekend's FTP test.  Of course age is a factor in my 2013 numbers compared to 2007, but not that much.  After all, it's only been 5-7 years - all of which have included full years of training and riding.  Sure, a little bit of drop off, but not massive like I saw last weekend.

Okay.  Enough of that.  Test #2....

Well - the FTP take 2 test confirmed I was certainly too ill to have done it last week.  In spite of the test being in my training schedule last weekend, I should have listened to by body last week and skipped it until I felt better.  Luckily, whatever it was did not result in a cold or flu and for that I am thankful.  Yesterday I felt totally back to normal and my numbers jumped 30+ watts for average power and threshold power to match previous years FTP tests (thanks online journal).  Sure, it was still as painful and taxing as such a test can be and my tongue was hanging out with the drool dripping down on my chest as I grunted it out.  It's a killer of a test on the LeMond recumbent trainer because I can not stand up and hammer for bits of rest or change of position on the bike like I can on the other trainer.  C'est la vie.  It's got the computer that provides me with the average power data for the 20 minutes so I have to use it.  I was able to push even harder during the final 3 minutes at the end of the test this morning giving me a much more accurate reading.  Still not stellar results for a big guy like me, but good enough to at least help set my training for the next 6 weeks of base which will then lead me right into a good build phase after that.

FTP Test 2:16

I know that I've got plenty of MSP intervals coming up in various durations 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 minutes, etc... that target the 265 - 285+ power range.  I actually did not hit that kind of work on the trainer like I should have last year thanks to lovely weather and riding outside without a computer, so using my online journal and going back to what I know worked in some prior years is actually welcome at this point.  Whether it enhances my racing this year (that's the hope) remains to be seen.  

I recovered from the FTP effort and subsequent cool down (total bike time of 90 mintues), made some lunch, did some chores and then got showered and dressed in my tails for the Des Moines Vocal Academy Arts Cabaret evening in Des Moines.  I sang Some Enchanted Evening and Tara sang If I Loved You. Then we paired up for All I Ask of You.  That all went well and it was a really fun evening and excellent fund raising event.  Kudos to my colleague Tim McMillin for organizing it all.  We had a blast.  After it was over, we headed over to Centro for dinner after that around 10 pm with Jamie and Laurie Poulsen.  Good food and fellowship was had by all before we headed home to retire.

Today promises to be upper 40's to around 50 with full sunshine.  So it looks like a 3 - 4 hour outdoor ride on the roadbike to target Zone 2 and even 30 minutes of Zone 3 thrown in there as well.  Currently there is no wind, but it's only 27 degrees at 9:30 am.  I will wait until that temperature starts to rise....


Niner JET 9 for XC racing...

It's easy to get all caught up in the excitement of new products, gear and what not when an upcoming XC riding season is approaching.  The SRAM XX1 "sounds" interesting, but does it provide anything new to me - performance wise - that I can't already achieve with my current gear (2 x 9)?  Perhaps it doesn't - at least not enough "new" performance enhancement to justify the price tag.  The weight savings of losing my Dura Ace front derailleur and my left X0 Trigger shifter would not amount to that much.  And trimming that weight off of my body is a more important (and free) performance boost.  So far, so good on that goal as I whittle my way down the scale.  I've still got about 8 - 10 pounds to go to get to my increased performance sweet spot.

So, after reviewing my equipment, the JET 9 will be the bike I start the 2013 race season on this year...

JET profile 2012

It is currently due for a cleaning, greasing, double check of cables, etc....to be ship shape, but I'll wait until the salting of streets and late winter/early spring snows are gone for the year.

Unlike the picture above with the Nobby Nic 2.25's that I ran last year, I've got the Maxxis Ikon 2.35 up front and an Ikon 2.2 in the rear on the bike right now.  I will most likely be racing them until I see if the drought continues this year enough to the point that I need more tread for traction in the loose and dry conditions like we had last year.

The reality of my April 21st crash last year at Tranquility in Omaha and my subsequent recovery combined with training during this off season has not had me feeling comfortable with the bar placement on my JET 9.  I kept the bars about 18-21mm lower on the JET last year than my RIP 9 or Karate Monkey or Dos Niner.  I flipped the stem positive this week to see if my comfort level would improve and it certainly gets me in a position to take some weight off.  Although this illustration is for standing erect posture, some of the same physics applies to on the bike posture.  That being - the lower your head is, the heavier it becomes.  This, in turn, increases the amount of support the body must give to hold it in a good position.  And a lot of that puts strain and stress on all of those neck muscles which tends to lead to tension (and tension headaches).

Weight on the head...

In studying profile pictures of me on the JET 9 (or any of my race bikes) last year after the accident and how I struggled to hold my head up and in position, I am still feeling a "fight" that I never had before I tore all of the neck muscles.  So flipping the stem has taken a "weight" off of my shoulders so to speak on the JET 9 and put the bars exactly in line with how I have them on the RIP 9.  It's not that new to me as I used to run my bars a lot higher on the JET 9, and it was only last year that I snuggled them down into a more aggressive position.  So I'm just going back to a more erect, comfortable position that is more neutral.  No need to mention that on a mountain bike a "neutral" position is not held that long as we move all around on the bike based on ascending, descending, cornering, sprinting, etc... .  If it ends up feeling a bit too high, I've got spacers underneath and steerer tube to work with for more wiggle room if need be.

Here's the JET 9 with the Ikons 2.35 front/2.2 rear and my stem flipped positive...


A little recovery spin and core work today, followed by some weekend hours on the bike, attending the Simpson Opera performances, singing at the Cabaret evening in Des Moines, listening to prospective student auditions and whatever else comes along.  Weather looks to be 47 and sunny on  Sunday which will make for a nice outside endurance ride on the road bike!!!


Time to dust off and clean the Tails...

I will be dropping off the tails and Tara's gown this morning at the cleaners to get them looking nice and spiffy for Saturday night's performance.


We'll each be singing a solo and a duet from Broadway Hits at the Hoyt Sherman Theater for the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble Season of Love Dessert Cabaret at 7 p.m.  Info his here.  Tara will sing from Carousel, I will sing from South Pacific and then we'll join up for a duet from The Phantom of the Opera.  Lots of other soloists and numbers from the Vocal Arts Ensemble - so it should be a really fun evening for music lovers.

I did an hour of core work last night before hitting the pasta and settling in to watch American Idol.  Today will be a lunch hour workout that targets Zone 4 with 3 x 8 minute interval work.  Zone 2, 3 and 4 have been weaknesses for me in the past, so this year has been a target to work on those.  I should be good and hungry by dinner time to enjoy what comes out of the crockpot!!!   Then off to the dress rehearsal of the opera.


Singlespeeder confronts Dog!

Today's workout #1 was a to be a low-key, Zone 1 Recovery spin for 30 minutes before going to work.  It just so happens that today is very "spring like" with sunshine and a high temperature of 50 in the forecast.  So I took the singlespeed out for the morning dog walk of 15 minutes.  I decided it was so nice outside that I would take the dogs home, and head out for a little recovery spin.

I rode by the first house on the edge of town out in the country that usually gives me a dog encounter.  Said dog was in the house and didn't emerge to bother me.  About a 1/2 mile later a new dog I had never seen before comes bounding out of a country yard barking and heads straight towards me.  No collar.  No tags.  Just a big black dog (some sort of a mix) that visually gets one's heart rate raised out of surprise.  So I stopped as this one was a new critter I had never seen or encountered before.  Out of the front door of the house comes the female owner in her PJ's yelling at the dog and she tells me what I've heard a thousand times "He won't hurt you!".  I respond - as a dog owner - that's easy for you to say, but I'm not sure as he looks like he means business.

She yells at him more as he keeps getting closer and closer to me.  I start to ride slowly by the house and the dog pursues me coming out into the street and goes for my leg.  So I stop, dismount.  Now the husband comes out in his PJ's yelling and hollering at the dog (which is larger than my labs).  The dog doesn't listen to either owner, but keeps coming at me and I remain calm telling the dog to go back home, blah, blah, blah.  The owners yell he's okay, he's just a pup and won't hurt me.  Yeah right - I think to myself.  I slowly make my way to the edge of their property while dog is doing what dogs do best - protect their property and confront strangers.  The owners are running around in their yard hollering and yelling at Jeb or Jed (couldn't quite make out that final consonant with all my winter gear over my ears).  I ride on off into the sunshine keeping a partial eye on big J and he runs after me, but stops when I turn and tell him to get home.  Okay - these are new tenants and a new dog in this home that have not been there the past 10 years (how long I have been riding by this house).

Although I'm the only nut that rides out in the winter in my neighborhood, once it gets warmer there are actually dozens of neighbors that ride, walk and jog by that house.  I envision trouble at some point down the line, but I fear the trouble will be the owners and their lack of being able to train the dog properly.  It's not the dog's fault as he seems to be a pretty jovial and youthful critter.  He never growled or bared his teeth, just barked in typical dog fashion when a stranger crosses the edge of one's property.  And I was nothing but nice during our first encounter, so maybe with time we will both get "used to each other" as that route is an important part of my training and recovery rides (flat).  Anyway, on my return trip past the house he was inside and I heard no barking.

I'll have to think about a solution for my next encounter with Jeb, Jed, etc....

Feeling better....

Whatever I have been trying to fight still was hanging on at work a bit yesterday, but by evening I was feeling a lot better.  I even came home during my lunch break and did the day's 60 minute workout on the C7i in the basement.  Zone 2 with 3 sets of 3 x 8 second full out sprints, and a 1 x 10 minute 220 Watt interval that ended with 2 minutes at 280 Watts "top it off" interval.  I felt a lot better spitting that out on the C7i than I did during Sunday's flop of a FTP test with my fever and on the LeMond recumbent trainer.  Today, I woke up feeling like whatever I was fighting is now gone.  Hmmmm.  I have to say it was an interesting few days wondering if it would break out into a cold or flu, but nada.  I'm happy for that and knock on wood - it holds!

It certainly has been an off-season of training my weaknesses.  Last fall, I re-programmed my entire process on how I corner on a 29"er mountain bike.  What felt really odd and rather unnatural then, now feels natural and automatic after months of using the new technique in my rides.  I have done more singlespeed riding in the past 4 months than I could ever have imagined to work on power climbing.  After losing control of my JET 9 bike in Omaha which resulted in a wreck last April (that took away any strength training for the rest of the 2012 season due to my torn up neck and upper body), I have spent the past 4 months of this off-season building up my body and working on my core.   The results are to this point, very welcomed.  I ended up relying last year on a lot of out of saddle climbing (more so than in past years) and I have spent this off-season preparing myself for a lot more power seated climbing like I have done in past years.

Last year's off season thanks to the wonderful weather, was spent focusing on a lot of lower effort, high volume training.  Yes, it got me through the season fine and dandy, but failed to address some areas that I should have been addressing.  This year has included a lot higher effort as well as or in addtion to increased volume which has been going rather well in the base phases.  A lot of weaknesses in my "game" have been addressed this off season up to this point.  The hope/goal is that by addressing the gaps and weaknesses it transfers to me being a better racer.  Might I mention - it has been humbling to work on all of this and realize my shortcomings.  

Tonight's weight session will end with some nice pasta according to Tara.  Last night's Fat Tuesday meal was spectacular as I made a healthy gravy from scratch that went over our 8 ounce ribeyes and asparagus.   


FAT Tuesday....!!!

Mardis Gras wraps up today with the traditional Fat Tuesday where you eat richer and fatty foods for your last meal before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  Tara has put me in charge of cooking the meal tonight so I will be contemplating what to cook.


And Pope Benedict resigns!  Say what?  Talk about making history as a Pope!!!

Pope Resigns Science Continues

I will always remember the day we were at the Vatican in May of 2011 to receive the Papal Blessing and saw Benedict cruising through the crowd in his Popemobile.  ;-)

And what did the Almighty think of the announcement?


Hmmm........what are the odds of that?  The Pope resigns and a few hours later the Vatican is struck by lightening.  Freaky....

My body is fighting tooth and nail as I broke a small fever Sunday night.  Headache continues, but the achy joints are improving.  Nothing has manifested yet in the nose or throat and I made it through rehearsal last night just fine.  My stomach was turning and churning and I was a bit dizzy going to bed last night, but this morning I feel more normal with only a slight headache.  I did get my flu shot this year, but I do wonder what I am fighting at the moment.  It seems to be - at least up to this point - staying under the surface and is still allowing me to function at work, sing, rehearse, exercise, etc.... .  And yet I am not normal...

Sunday was a humbling learning experience with the FTP test, but I managed to bounce back fine and did my squats and deadlifts along with core work - all without any issue Monday morning before work.  I set up a booth at the International Study Fair in the Kent Student Center and manned it along with 2 students from 12:45 - 1:45 yesterday.  We had a few drop by and sign up with early interest for the semester abroad in Germany Spring 2015.  I went back to the office after that and taught lessons until 4:15.  I needed a major cup of coffee around 3 pm to keep afloat with my "bug".  I ran home after work and made a quick vat of chicken lasagna for dinner, then raced up to Des Moines for the evening rehearsal of the Bloch Sacred Service.

Today's workout has me on the bike for an hour with 3 sets of short, full out sprints.  I'm debating if I should do this workout before I go to work, or come home during my lunch hour.  I'll decide in the next 1/2 hour during my morning dog walk (with me on the bike of course) which time slot works best.  I can't do it after work as I am in charge of cooking the meal tonight while Tara is in the basement doing her workout routine.  And Alexa will come home from her track workout screaming if food is not prepared and on the table before 7!!!

Happy Fat Tuesday to all.  Enjoy!




That's about all I can say after this afternoon's scheduled FTP all out 20 minutes time trial test to set power levels for the next 6 weeks of training.

Due to weather conditions this weekend, I flip-flopped Saturday and Sunday's workouts so I could ride outside in the sunshine on Saturday.  I had a nice ride and was out there about 2 1/2 hours.  I got home aournd 5 pm, showered and as the evening went along I started to feel aches and pains in my joints, muscles and a nasty headache.  I pretty much tossed and turned throughout the night, but did manage to sleep for 10 hours.  I woke up with the same headache, aches and pains.  I was even dizzy.  I pounded water all morning and day trying to flush whatever it is out of me, but to no avail.  I'm fighting something, but it hasn't broken out yet to show me exactly what it is - cold, flu, etc...?

In spite of that cruddy feeling today, I did 55 minutes of warm-up on the upright Life Cycle C7i trainer (pictured on the left) in the basement to get ready for the 20 minute FTP test.  Keep in mind, the computer on the LeMond recumbent trainer is the only one that reports the average HR, average Watts, average cadence, etc... between the two machines we have in the basement.  Therefore, I decided to use the LeMond (pictured on the right) even though my cycling muscles are not really adpated for it.   I put clipless pedals on it and did some more warm-up on it to get acclimated to it for the test.


Everything I read said to use the first 2 mintues to ramp things up, then by the end of the first 5 minutes to be in the pace I could hold for the duration.  Everyone said not to go out too hard at the beginning and I'm sure that with practice of doing something like a 20 minute TT - I would get the hang of it, but ouch!!!

I was hanging in there at 267-272 Watts until the timer said I was 11:47 into my twenty minutes and it was like the rug was suddenly pulled out from underneath me.   I had to back off a bit.  And then a bit more.  I tried increasing the cadence and using an easier gear.  Then I switched to a tougher gear, but a bit lower cadence.  Back and forth I played the game.  And I watched the Watts dip to 254, flip to 244, and flop all around - as in way too low - before I mentally forced myself to tough it out and finish the test while attempting to get things back up and flying.  I was fighting it for sure.  Maybe I had gone out too hard in the first 2 minutes and was paying the price.  No doubt an all out 20 minute TT is a tough one.  I had also read that in the last 3 minutes you want to ramp it up and give whatever you have left.  So when the clock struck 17:00 - I amped it up and was pushing 302-305 Watts.  I was able to push through the pain until the clock hit 20:00.  Whew!!!! 

Mistakes made may include not being rested enough for this (should have done it yesterday); my body is fighting something which at this point - which I don't know what - most likely was a contributing factor; perhaps went out a bit too hard from the get go and had to back off a bit midway through the TT; and lastly - using the LeMond trainer may not be the most accurate judge since a seated recumbent pedal stroke is not 100% the same as one used sitting up in a normal cycling position.  But I had to go with the equipment I have that will report the data I need.  The upright C7i computer doesn't do what I need which I still kick myself about because the C9i was only a bit more when I bought it, but way back then had no idea I would ever need the extra computer features.  I was pushing a cadence that I've never really been comfortable pushing and ended up with an average of 93 rpm.  I'm pretty sure I do spend a lot of time in the low 80's and even in the 70's during a mountain bike race.

I guess the good news is that my average power for the 20 minutes was 36 Watts higher than the last time I eeked one of these stinking efforts out.  The final 3 minutes where I was pushing 302-305 using Friel's formula of my weight - (my age - 35 X .05) says that to be competitive I need to have an FTP of 302.4.  Fat chance on that!!!  Either way - via raising my FTP and or losing more weight - says that there is still plenty of room for improvement to improve my competitive chances.  I'll also have to get more experienced at laying down a 20 minute TT test as it is a discipline in and of itself that needs a physical and mental routine to get the most accurate reading.

I cooled down after the effort to end the week at 9:50 of training (that number includes everything - weights, cycling, stretching, foam roller, core work).   I turned off the floor fans and headed upstairs for a shower.  Then Tara and I ran out the door to catch the 4:10 showing of Silver Linings Playbook.  What a great movie!!! 

Watching the Grammy's now winding down on a Sunday evening getting ready for the work week.  And I feel myself starting to sweat out a fever as I am really perspiring now.... 



The Mullet Fall Classic receives nomination!!!

Cool news for The Mullet Fall Classic mountain bike race that I host.  I got an email yesterday from Iowa's Momentum Magazine saying....

Good morning, Bruce.  

I am emailing with some exciting news -- the readers of Iowa Momentum have selected the Mullet Fall Classic as the winner or runner-up in  "Top Mountain Bike Race" in our first annual Reader's Choice Awards.   This is a prestigious honor that you should most certainly be proud of.  

Readers voted for their top choices in 50 categories by logging on to http:www.iowamomentum.com and taking the survey.  All winners and runners-up will be published in the March 2013 issue of Iowa Momentum.  You will also receive an award that will be mailed to you after the March 2013 issue publishes.

If you are not familiar with Iowa Momentum, we are a monthly publication that distributes 10,000 copies throughout Central Iowa each month.  Our primary focus is the endurance athlete.  You can see our magazine on-line at http:www.iowamomentum.com .

This will be one of the most sought after issues of the year and a great place for you to thank the readers for voting for you.  I have attached our rate sheet for you to review.  Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to proceed with placing an ad.

Again, congratulations on this great honor!
Lisa Meline
Advertising Executive
Iowa Momentum Endurance Sports Magazine
That's good news indeed!  Thank you to all who voted for The Mullet.  I'm already busy at work to make this year's October 6th event even better for you. 

More good news for The Mullet!!

Two new additions for this year thus far.  The event will be the State Championship for the IMBCS and conducted under the USA Cycling sanctions.  YesThe Iowa State Championship!!!  A few more steps and protocols to make that happen, but I think it will all be worth it for everyone.


Yesterday called for 30 minutes on the bike in the morning and weights and core work for workout #2 in the evening.  I was a bit lethargic from a long and exhausting day at work, getting home late and drained - but I managed to do all the required work and finally ate dinner around 8 pm.  And I am happy to report that my digital scale claims I have achieved my goal of parity with regard to body weight.  I am now back to exactly what I was last Friday before a weekend of indulgence.  We're talking about 2+ pounds here, so I'll try not to let that happen again.

Today and tomorrow are fairly easy training days to set me up for big mileage this weekend.  Looks to be 43+ and sunny on Saturday.  We've had 2 days of melt already and today and tomorrow will continue to melt everything off setting this weekend up for outside riding.  Sunday will be 51, but I'll have to ride in the rain (which I don't mind).

Big project due on Friday and Monday at work, so I'm burning the candle early and late every day to accomplish it.


Sober, or at least sobering...

The BRR ride drained me enough to require a full 2 days of recovery.  And due to the excess of food consumption on Superbowl Sunday, I was ready for a sobering cleanse.

So...I turned the screws.

Monday - no exercise.  No alcohol.  Minimal caloric intake.

Tuesday - 75 minutes of steady state Zone 2.  No alcohol.   Huge veggies for lunch, salad with grilled chicken breast and lots of veggies for dinner.  Stretch and on the foam roller after dinner.

Wednesday - today calls for a 30 minute recovery ride this morning before work, and weights tonight after work.  No alcohol.  Light caloric consumption with some protein for dinner after the weights.

The digital scale in the bathroom sobered me right up and said it was time to take charge to meet my goals.  So far, so good and I hope by week's end I have returned to a cleansed equillibrium thanks to cutting calories.  Alcohol has way too many calories, so it was first to go.  And I am feeling energetic and good - so who needs it?

Another sobering thought!!!   Say it isn't so?  Our beloved Bike Iowa unique cycling kits are being replaced?  What!!!!!????

jersey revision for team


Primal likes our kit so much, they are offering it in their retail line this year (minus the BikeIowa.com logo stuff).  We just got them delivered in like May of 2012, and the BikeIowa.com Team leaders have decided it's time for a new design already.  Hmmmm....this is getting expensive.

The previous BikeIowa.com kits lasted at least 2 seasons before we changed.  We've had this one for only 10 months and now another new kit is coming?  Sobering!!

I haven't seen the new design yet.  Oh well, in the meantime I can still continue to wear my older kits...

Now, on to finish a project for work that is in dire need of getting done before Friday.  Sobering for sure that I have put it off for so long, although I do have all of the data collected.  I just need to cut it down into a short presentation.


Superbowl hangover....

From the food - not the beer!!!  And from the BRR ride on Saturday which hit will full effect when I woke up on Sunday.  Oy!  A nice reminder - in terms of the ride - of the required need for recovery at my age.  It's getting not as easy to bounce back.

I don't think there is anything I did not eat that was put on the table at the Superbowl Party I went to with Tara last night.  Gumbo?  Ate it.  Chili?  Ate it.  Crab?  Ate it.  Chips?  Ate them.  Dips?  Ate them.  Cookies?  Ate them.  Cake balls?  Ate them.  Crackers?  Ate them.  Wings?  Ate them.  Brownies?  Ate one.  Plus a few other things that were on the table.

In other words, even with my lighter breakfast and lunch to save up some caloric room for the party - I over-extended my caloric needs.  Big time!!  I'm going to blame it on the 34 minute power outage at the game.  We were all glued to our seats watching the game and had finished eating for the most part.  That break in the action got us up out of our seats and wandering over to the buffet to munch and visit.  That's when I hit the salty stuff and dips.  And the cake balls.

Great game to watch and just what you want - a final drive to win or lose the game.  You couldn't have scripted it any better.  Too bad the 49"ers couldn't score on that final drive as I was rooting for them.  Oh well, the 10 of us at the party (5 couples) had a fun time watching the game, the commercials, eating, drinking and yelling.  I even brought home some leftovers I was so munchie hungry.

I took yesterday and am taking today totally off the bike and exercise (outside of the dog walks) to recover from the BRR ride grind against the wind and allow my body to be ready to go for Tuesday's start of Base 3.  I'll be doing two Base 3 phases this year (I'll call the second one Base 4 just for the sake of keeping it straight) and things get a bit dialed up in Base 3 as hours increase which I hope will quickly allow me to burn off the Superbowl weight gain.

Time for the morning dog walk.  The weather looks like this week will be the big melt off of last week's snow, so it is about to get sloppy outside.



Well I did it.  BRR that is...

I drove up to Perry on Saturday morning to do a solo BRR ride.  Original plan was for Beth, Val, Tara and I to carpool up and ride the BRR as a quartet.  Weather conditions with the windchill and recent snowfall had all of my other quartet members change their minds.  Oh well, I can sing solo - so why not ride solo?   The sun was shining and temperatures were not too bad as they settled around the teens to 20.  The wind however, was blowing from the northeast meaning one would need a nice wind protection layer of clothing to keep warm.

I parked the Element and unloaded the bike for the day - my Salsa Dos Niner with big Nobby Nics on there in case of any snow.  However, it was apparent they had a lot less snow in Perry than the 7 or so inches we got in Indianola.  Streets were dry and I would have to pay the price for the big nobs by dealing with the rolling resistance.  I was actually going to bring my JET 9, but on my dog walk in the morning with -4 windchill, the rear derailleur was frozen and not shifting (or the cable was frozen).  So I took the Bar Mitts off of the JET 9 and put them on the Dos Niner.  I thought about the Karate Monkey singlespeed, but figured I would be spun out all day so the Dos Niner was it because I don't have Bar Mitts for the road bike and with the windchill - I was going to need them.

Here's my ride all ready to go on the street where I snagged a parking spot not far from downtown...


The ride "officially" started at 10 a.m. and it was now about 11:15, but lots of people were still arriving and taking off.  And plenty were hanging around getting warmed up - as in starting the ride off with a brew in hand or a visit to one of the local bars that were all open and hopping for the event.  Not my style pre-ride,  so I hopped on the bike and off I went following the herd of riders out onto the highway.

Once we got to the edge of Perry I felt the force of the wind that was blowing in our faces.   I dialed back a gear or two and settled in for a Zone 2 pace I could maintain against this wind and with my big Nobby Nics sucking up the pavement.  My layered clothing consisted of wool long johns, a sportier pair of thinner long johns made by Under Armour over that, a thin pair of socks covered with a wool pair of socks, my long legged cylcing bibs, a pair of wind pants made by Columbia, my long sleeve wool shirt, my Bike Iowa coat and a Columbia wind shell over the coat.  I wore the light Pearl Izumi gloves since the Bar Mitts would keep me warm and there was no need for overkill on the hands, a thin balaclava and my Russian hat with the fur and flaps that connect under my chin.  I felt good and warm and the windshell was working its magic to keep me warm.  The heavy breathing on the hills was fogging up my Oakley's but nothing I couldn't deal with by moving them a tad off the bridge of my nose.   I think a pair of my ski goggles would have been the better choice.

I motored along at my chosen pace and was doing fine.  The usual crowd was stopped at the top of the first hill drinking and partying.  Lots of people pulled over along the route drinking a beer.  Brrr...is all I could think.  The final couple of miles into Rippey were a bit of a grind directly against the wind and the big knobs of my tires squirming around on the pock marked highway were not helping.  I could hear all the riders on the other side of the road who had already made the turn and were heading back talking about how easy it was to ride with the wind.  I couldn't wait as the effort was starting to tell and I was perspiring from the grinding work against the wind.  Finally, I made it into Rippey and enjoyed the fact there were cattle right next to the road within the city limits.   I was surprised it had taken 1 1/2 hours by my watch to get from my car in Perry to Rippey.  That's how strong that stinking wind was blowing and my Nobby Nics were slowing me down on the pavement.  I had figured it would be around 60 minutes give or take a few based on conditions.

I had several food stop options, but decided to stop at the Methodist Church fund raiser in Rippey for a baked potato, bottled water and an absolutely wonderful piece of pumpkin pie.  They had some nice pie choices, but that one stood out as the kind of fuel my body could take and appreciate for the return trip home.  I pretty much inhaled the potato and pie, used the restroom and headed right back out to the bike for the return trip.  I was nice and wet underneath my layers, but the layers were working their magic and I didn't feel cold at all.  Maybe my toes, so I threw some of the hand/foot warmers in my boots to keep the toes warm on the return trip.

I got to the edge of Rippey and felt the wind at my back.  It was literally a 4-5 cog (4-5 gear) difference for the same effort going in this direction compared to the other direction.  I saw all the people just arriving in Rippey grinding it out against the wind as I flew by and just smiled as they were about to make the turn and go with the wind.  What a difference!!!  The return trip was 30 minutes less thanks to the tailwind.  As is typical for the way my body works in endurance, everything kicked in for the final 45 minutes as I picked up the pace not really wanting to be riding too long.  I should mention, I was surprised by how many FAT Bikes were being used to do the ride.  I'm pretty sure I saw somewhere between 50 - 75 of them out on the highway.  Maybe even more, but my head was down grinding it out a lot of the time so I may have missed some.  I saw about a dozen tandems, quite a few recumbents, some singlespeeds and the usual fare one sees on RAGBRAI.  If it has wheels - you're good to go.

My left elbow has been experiencing tendonitis which started in the middle of last summer.  I've been working weekly on a program to fix that.  It's caused by the shoulder and I have been doing a lot of exercises on the core and my rotation in the shoulders with bands to improve my situation.  For the first time - I was not experiencing any problems at all in the left arm.  Wow!  Progress and good news for me as I will continue working on the shoulders to get rid of it completely. 

I rolled into Perry and headed directly to the Element to strip off the layered gear and get some dry clothes on for the drive home.  I was a wet, sweaty mess.  And Brrrrrrr.   Everybody was claiming this year was a "warm one".  Maybe compared to other years, but I was glad it wasn't any colder than it was.

The Bar Mitts were champs and the bike did fine.  I took another picture before loading it up to head home...


I was bushed!  The dog walk and warm-up, plus the BRR ride had me on the bike for 2:45 today.   I did another dog walk in the evening on the JET (was shifting fine in the warmer temps) to add another 15 minutes of bike time. That takes me over my planned week of 5 1/2 hours of endurance riding for the R & R week.  I mostly kept it in Zone 2 on the BRR ride, but there were some Zone 3 efforts as I refused to slow down on the hills.  I'll take tomorrow and Monday as rest days (maybe do a short recovery spin on Sunday to loosen up the legs).

Sorry the ladies bailed on me, but they would have been a bit miserable in that windchill.  It's fun to have done my first BRR ride.  Kudos to the folks from Perry and Rippey for hosting the event and providing a platform for a couple thousand nuts to be out and about in a winter RAGBRAI like experience.


Load up the plates!!!

Opera singers face the incredible feat of singing high notes which can be an all out risk/reward scenario depending on how high, how loud, where the notes are in the phrase, where they are in the aria or ensemble and where they are in the context of the entire opera.  High notes are the "squats" of opera singing.

I've reached the "high note" phase of my off season weight lifting.  I'm in the strength/growth phase where the plates are loaded on to the olympic bar.


Ouch - that's a lot of weight for that guy!

Joe Friel claims in his wonderul book "The Mountain Biker's Training Bible", that during this phase the ideal weight to reach by the end of the muscular strength phase with a squat is 1.3 - 1.7 times one's body weight.  Women should shoot for the 1.3 number and men should shoot for the 1.7 number.  For me, at my current weight, that means a target of 247 (1.3) - 323 (1.7).  Whoa?  What?  323 pounds?  Now that's a risk/reward high note for sure with my skinny little legs.  I can pretty much guarantee I'm not going to go that high based on my previous years of lifting and reality check of what I can do.  Not to mention, with the olympic bar and all the plates I own - I only have 300 pounds to work with unless I go buy more plates.  Highly unlikely...!

There is nothing more confidence inspiring than a well executed squat.  Like an extreme high note at the end of an aria or opera, there is that question of whether or not it is going to come out successfully.  And there is nothing more confidence inspiring than a well executed high note.  In past weight lifting phases, I have not gone over 280/290 using a squat rack at the gym.  I am doing my squats at home with the olympic bar, so I don't have the additional safety/security feature of the type of rack I used at Anytime Fitness (Smith Machine) which has cables and pulleys withe bar attached to the rack so the chance of injury by falling or dropping the bar is eliminated.   Not so when using the olympic bar and doing the lift in the "free" open space.  We use spotters who are there to help out if you can't get back up out of the squat or if you happen to lose your balance.  I will be hitting those weights soon in this phase and will use my son as a spotter.  I am usually fine up to around 235-245, but like to have a spotter after that just in case.

The first day of this phase only had me go up to 190 pounds on the squat lift which is 20 pounds more than the hypertrophy phase I was using of 170 pounds.  Yet, like the high note in opera, completing 6 squats at that weight was confidence inspiring and set the foundation for upping the number of plates next week to go over 200 pounds.  I hit the full body strength phase workout on Thursday with squats, deadlifts, leg curls, leg extensions, calf raises, lunges, upper body with everything feeling good.  It was less fatiguing than a hypertrophy workout and for that I am happy.  I love the squats and the deadlifts the best for the overall body work it does.  Good article here on the benefits of both.

In spite of it being an R&R week for me - the prescribed low end endurance riding of 5.5 hours this week is still causing me plenty of training stress.  Yesterday was a comfortable 45 minute recovery ride and then we headed over to Lisa's for a wonderful dinner with her family.  It was yummylishess!

Today is the BRR ride.  Bike ride to Rippey (from Perry that is).  About 1000 nuts are expected on this Ground Hog Day to hit the road for the fun ride event.  Temperatures are 18 here in Indianola, but the windchill where the ride is to take place is currently around -4 which means one has to really bundle up.  The 3 ladies I was going to do the ride with (including Tara) have all bailed once the forecast dropped from sunny and 37 down to what it is today.  So I am trying to decide whether or not I should do it on my own.  The sun is shining.  The bike is ready.  I have the clothing.  I'll eat some breakfast and make a decision to go or do 90 minutes on the C7i in the basement.

Maybe I could open the window in the basement and call it a BRR ride...