3/30/13

NEW Bike!!!! My Road Bike Ownership History...

Being that I just purchased a brand new Specialized road bike, I thought I would give my personal history of road bike ownership.  It's not a long history with tons of bikes, so no need to worry.

I grew up in a small town in South Dakota where we rode on gravel as all of our streets were gravel and the farm roads were gravel.  This is where I learned to ride a bike for the first 9 years of my life.   Then we moved to Rapid City where there were plenty of hills and the Schwinn Sting Ray was the youth bike of choice.  Somewhere between 1976 and 1979, after we had moved to Williston, North Dakota for my final 3 high school years - I acquired my first official road bike.  It was a Browning 10 speed and featured a new drivetrain system.  That's right, the same company notoriously known for their guns also made bikes in the 70's.

How weird is this data?  Bruce Brown was riding a bike developed by Bruce Browning.  Wow!  I didn't really know that at the time, but pretty odd in my opinion as I found out later in life.  I don't even remember where we bought the Browning 10 speed bike.  Used at a pawn shop, in an ad we found in the paper, from somebody my Dad knew, or if we bought it new.  I just remember getting it.  And loving it.  Although the color of mine was different, it looked something like this Browing 10 Speed...

Browning10Speed

Mine was sort of a red/rust color, but featured the same cool dual brakes (could brake from the hoods or the flats), had the nice paint job, white handlebar tape, gum wall tires, etc... .  What I liked about the bike had a lot to do with the riding experience available in northwestern North Dakota.  I would head out on pavement on these roads that had nice rolling hills, that were straight for as far as the eye could see and rarely see more than a car or two while out for a ride.  In other words, it was pretty safe to ride out on the open road.  And I liked it.  It was a way for me to escape, enjoy the scenery and enjoy some solitude.   This was the era of the Sony Walkman, so I always had that along and was listening to Spyro Gyra, the Doobies, Styx, Boston, etc... - typical 70's stuff.  No helmet.  No jersey.  No kit.  Just me with shorts, sneakers and I would usually ride shirtless in the warmer months to get the tan.  It was open road riding at its best in a very sparsely populated area.

I also learned a lesson about interfacing with traffic on that bike.  Although I never had a problem out in the country on open roads, in the town of Williston istelf - I noticed that cars would not notice me.  Or if they did see me, they didn't know what to do traffic wise.  One time, frustrated with this, I was riding along on a street where I had the right of way and a Jeep Wagoneer was stopped on my right at a stop sign.  He saw me, stared me down and just as I was about to enter the intersection, he pulled out in front of me.  Luckily, my brakes worked and I managed to stay upright and not hit him.  Without thinking, and since his window was down, I gave him the double middle finger salute and yelled the same words to match what my fingers said.  He heard and saw me, and quickly did a U-Turn to come run me down.  Crap!  I booked it into a neighborhood and saw a house being painted by a group of painters that had just finished painting our own house.  These painters were a group of high school teachers that would paint houses in the summer for extra income.  Most of them I had as teachers, so I rode over to them and quickly told them what was going on just as the Jeep pulled up into the driveway with the guy getting out of the car to confront me.  The teachers, which included 3 coaches, took over and quickly the guy retreated back to his Jeep and drove off.  The teachers told me about life and advised me to be careful.  Lesson learned.

In talking to my folks about it, I started thinking about being visual out on the road.  Since our high school colors were orange and black, and my bike was sort of a red/rust darker color that was not highly visible - I decided to strip the paint off of the bike and rattle can paint it an orange shade that matched our high school color.  Too bad I destroyed that beautiful Browning paint job and decals, but my hope was the brighter orange color would help cars notice me more.  I had no idea you could do that with clothing, but that was then.  I also got a big orange flag to stick on the bike which looked really nerdy, but it did improve my in town visibility.  The problem was that a calm day in North Dakota means that you only have to use 1/2 a bottle of hair spray to hold the locks in place.  So the "safety flag" was a wind magnet and I may as well have been riding with a parachute behind me!!  So the "safety flag" came off shortly after purchase and installation.  Great for a recumbent trike, but no good for a road bike.  Not sure what happened to that bike after I went off to college.  But it was my first official road bike filled with memories.

Fast forward decades later to 2006.  After college, any biking I did was on a mountain style bike.  Whether it was pavement, mountain biking, gravel, bike paths, commuting in Vienna, etc... - I did it on some sort of a bike that would qualify as a mountain bike.  Getting ready for RAGBRAI 2006, we needed another bike for the family and I picked up a closeout Specialized Allez entry level bike from Rasmussen's Bike Shop in Des Moines.  Carbon fork, lower end Shimano bits, but a good price (I think it was $600-$800, but can't remember the exact cost).  It would fit my son (eventually) which is why I bought it and I could get away with riding it, and was a bit of a compromise for me fit wise (too small).  But I could flip the stem, put the seat back on the rails and sort of stretch out in a position that I could tolerate.  The white color stood out as being visible and the memories of my Browning bike and the visibility issue helped me settle on the white one.

Here is that bike...

06AllezSport27_Wht_l

Or better yet...

P1010001

This bike has pretty much been ridden on the paved bike trails here in Iowa - Summerset Trail, Great Western Trail, High Trestle Trail, etc... .  When riding bikes in Vienna and in Europe, cars are really used to cycling traffic because there is so much of it, there are bike lanes in the big cities and there are very few altercations between bikes and cars.  The same was true when we lived out in the East Bay of California.  Bikes and pedestrians rule and everybody stops and gives them space.  The same is true where I grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota and my folks retired.  It's a blast to ride there because traffic stops for you (as in California and Austria).  When we moved to Indianola in 2003, I was shocked at how cars and trucks pay no attention to bikes (or pedestrians).  I pulled out my double middle finger salute and yelling when moving here because now that I'm older and probably could care less, I let people have it if they don't stop for me when I have the right of way as a bike - or as a pedestrian.  It hasn't worked all that well as I pretty much have somebody pull right out in front of me no matter what day it is.  It's probably a bit better in summertime when people are more aware of cyclists out and about.  Most of the time, I just assume they are not going to stop and 9 times out of 10 - that's the usual scenario.

I guess tolerating a road bike that I feel cramped on for 8 years was enough.  I know how comfortable I feel on my properly sized mountain bikes, and it was time to do the same on a road bike.  I am spending a lot of training time on the road bike and we are riding RAGBRAI this year.  We also have plans for a bike trip in Italy (one of those posh-posh tours where they haul your gear and you eat your way through gourmet Italian evenings).  So the investment will be used and now Zack gets his bike back in time for nice weather outdoor riding.

My search for a new road bike of my own is chronicled in previous posts, but in addition to getting one in "tall size" for myself, I am interested to see if the bright red color helps a bit on the visibility issue and makes cars more aware of me when out and about.  Although the white color of the Allez was brighter than my old original Browning, it wasn't enough.  There is something about bright red, bright orange, bright neon green to garner a bit more attention.  I move pretty quickly on a bike on pavement and I don't think Indianola drivers are aware of how fast a bike can be traveling.  I guess that's normal and I am coming to accept it more.  So my yelling and middle finger salutes have tapered off to only the most blatant judgement calls these days.  It's the end of March, and I haven't used it yet in 2013.  ;-)

Here's the new 2013 Specialized Roubaix in Fire Truck red.  It's in size GIANT or HUGE with a 64cm frame, super long 260mm headtube and is only the 3rd road bike in my history at age 51.  I hope it lasts me a good long time and does what I want it to do.

2013Roubaix64cm

I will follow up with a report on how it rides after the Easter weekend of testing it out.

3/29/13

Green Day - tonight!!!

A few days of spring has finally sprung.  We should hit 63 today which means another bike ride outside.  The new bike has arrived at Rassy's, but I might not be able to get it until later today, or tomorrow - or even on Monday as Sterling tells me they are swamped and it needs to be assembled.  The warmer weather increases their business and list of things to do.  He's got it down on the list to build, but there are quite a few things on the list he says.  So I continue increasing my anticipation until I get "the call".

I did 90 minutes outside yesterday on pavement on the Specialized Allez to honor what I hoped was my last ride on it (isn't 8 years enough?).  I will do about 2 hours this morning before a shortened work day.  Alexa and I are having a father/daughter weekend by going on a road trip right after she gets out of school today.  We'll be heading to the Quad Cities to catch Green Day tonight.

GreenDay

We haven't seen them since their American Idiot Tour when we heard them in Kansas City.  It will be fun to catch them in concert again. 

Tara and I went to Alexa's first outdoor track meet of the 2013 season (Tuesday's was cancelled here in Indianola due to snow).  The meet was up in Ankeny and began at 4 pm.  We got there around 5:30 after work and had only missed her first event.  The coach had her down to run in 5 events.  Five?  That's too many and luckily they pulled her from one and she ran in 4 relays.  These were all the big 4 A schools from Des Moines (Ankeny, Roosevelt, Valley, Dowling, East, Indianola, Johnston, Urbandale).  Alexa ran three 200 meter segments, and one 100 meter segment.  She got stronger as the evening went on and really was hauling in the last two events, the Sprint Medley (where Indianola won!!!), and the 4 by 100 (where they took 4th).  Alexa hasn't run 200 meter segments since about 7th or 8th grade, but I think it's not a bad distance for her.  The 100 has been her best event over the years.  Anyway, we had fun watching her in spite of the fact that a track meet has to be the slowest, most drawn out sporting event to watch as a spectator.

It was a bit chilly last night sitting out there as a spectator for several hours.  A lot of people bring in blankets, stadium seats, bags of goodies and treats to have a "tailgate" right in the stands (minus the booze of course).  I made the mistake of getting a box of popcorn for $1 to tide me over and was amazed at how oversalted it was.  I ate it because I was pretty hungry.  I would guess it was well over a week's worth of sodium in it meaning I was snacking on the number one killer - salt.  I'll be doing my best to hydrate, flush and sweat that out the next 24 hours.  No more stadium popcorn!!! 

The 4 x 100 is one of the most enjoyable events for me to watch as is the 100 meter and 100 meter hurdles.  Those events share the common denominator of - if you blink you miss it The 4 x 400 was the final event of the evening and Indianola fought back in the anchor leg and was in 1st place with 100 meters to go.  It was a great finish, but Indianola ended up in third as that final 100 meters was a battle between three runners.  Fun was had by all.  We took Alexa home and stopped by Court Avenue Brewery for some dinner to celebrate and watched Ohio beat Arizona.

Happy Easter Weekend to all!!!






3/28/13

Could this be the day? New Bike Day that is?

On tap for the next 4 days seems to be spring like weather with temperatures in the 50's all 4 days.  I will take my lunch break today and head out for a ride to get in a quick 60-90 minutes.  I'll be going to Alexa's track meet after work, so no time for a ride then.

I am waiting for a call from Rassy's that my Roubaix has landed at the shop and is assembled.  Could be today.  Could be tomorrow.  I hope to get it in time for at least a couple of rides this weekend.

I feel leg a begging critter waiting for the shiny red bike...

Please

In other words, I am filled with anticipation, curiosity of the size and fit, and of course the ride out on the pavement itself.

Training Week 12:  Rest & Recovery Week

This is my final week in the 12 week base period I have been through that started on December 31.  The last two weeks were fairly decent loads in terms of TSS and I needed to take Monday entirely off.   I did weigh in at 184.2 Monday morning, so I didn't quite make my sub 184 goal.  Maybe this week.  Lower body weights were scheduled on Monday, but I moved that workout to Wednesday morning so I could recover from the 5 1/2 hours on the bike that I did on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday:  Off/Recovery spins via 2 dog walks
Tuesday:  60 minutes Zone 2
Wednesday:  Excellent Lower Body Workout!!!  I hit my off season high goal weights on the squats.
Thursday:  60-90 minutes easy ride outside

Cleaning up the JET 9

The mud is/was a glued on mess on the JET from Saturday mornings ride at Lake Ahquabi. 

MudFest

I got most of the big chunks off this morning after the dog walk.  It's due for some soap and water, a full lube and tune-up to get ready for XC racing next weekend.  The RIP is clean and ready to race, so that might be what I reach for first depending on trail conditions come next weekend.  But I will clean up the JET and get it ready as well.  I learned my lesson to not ride in that kind of mud again.  Yuck.


3/26/13

Spring 2013 Snow Cover...and NEW BIKE!!!

This image shows snow covering nearly half of the U.S. and most of Canada on March 26, 2013.  The claim is that there has not been this much snow covering North America at this point in the season for the past 10 years.

This pretty much says it all...
Spring2013SnowCover
Teaser Alert on a new bike:  The Big Fire Trucker arrives on Thursday.  
Roubaix Comp Compact
Hopefully the snow will have melted by then for some outdoor rides over the Easter weekend.  The forecast is for 51 - 56 Thursday through Sunday.  Nice....

3/25/13

Pesach...

Thus beginnith Pesach 2013....

Pesach2013

Happy to all!

3/24/13

Drained the tank.....Mud Fest.....Weight Goals.....new bike?

Draining the Tank (in a good way this time!!!)

Warning:  Today's blog entry is about 90% online journal entry information for my own edification.

Weekend training scheduled a total of 5 1/2 hours or riding.  Studying the SPRING forecast, I saw that snow was going to hit on Saturday night around 7 pm and last into Sunday.  Being that Sunday was my 3 1/2 hour outside planned ride that was to include a lot of hill work, I swapped days and did my Sunday yesterday.  The Saturday ride is a Zone 2 effort and I can do that on the trainer inside Sunday.

I was hoping to take advantage of the frozen earth and get some laps in out at Lake Ahquabi before it got too muddy and the snow hit.  The hills are perfect for my prescribed ride, so I suited up and headed out to hit frozen dirt.  I didn't get going as early as I wanted to, but so be it.  I parked at the Beach Shelter, and headed off for lap one.  It was quickly revealed to me that the entire trail system was extremely pock-marked from hikers and deer having been out on the trail while it was soft.  Rough stuff that needs a bevy of Fat Bikes to hit the trail while it is soft to smooth things out.

It was also quickly revealed to me that the DNR has hired contractors to do some trail work on a few sections (lots of Bobcats and big grader equipment are parked out on the trail at the moment).  What was once a fun section of trail is now wide enough for a jeep and looks to be on tap for a dump truck load or two of gravel.  Rats!  I turned up on the levy by the first pond and climbed up to the monument to avoid the newly made "road" of a trail.  This got me thinking of some possible route changes for The Mullet this fall, but I will wait to see what the finished product is from the DNR hired contractors.

By the end of lap one, temperatures were warming up enough that the ground was starting to get soft.  My tires started to pick up a bit of dirt by the end of lap one.  Lap two had my tires leaving an imprint which didn't bother me because if anything, the trail needs some imprints to smooth out all of the damage from footprints and deer tracks.  By the end of lap two I was throwing mud all over the place.  Lap 3 was a MUD FEST and I needed to get off the trail.  I had to keep stopping to pull chunks of mud out of the fork and rear triangle so the wheels would turn.  I cut the lap short after I got to the campground and headed back on pavement to the parking lot realizing I was not going to get my 5+ laps in at Ahquabi for the training.  I figured I would quickly head back to town and grab the road bike to finish up the day's ride.

The bike needs a cleaning...

JETPostRide

A bit too much mud...

MudFest

I was eating dirt...

MudFace

Not too worried about having caused any trail damage as the mud was collected - for the most part - on the sections of trail where all the earth moving Bobcats and graders are parked and have torn up the earth before they reshape it and dump rock/gravel on it.

I got home, put my bottles on the road bike, washed my face, grabbed my iPod and swapped jackets for one that was clean.  I did Zone 2/3 all the way to Carlisle and back to finish up the day with 3 1/2 hours of "on the bike time".  I finally had a tailwind from Carlisle back to Indianola, so the trip was 10 minutes or so quicker.  In spite of the low 30's weather and dry conditions, I saw nobody else out on the trail on Saturday between noon and 2.  Too bad, it was good riding.   I fueled well throughout the riding and although got a good TSS from pushing hard all day, I was drained in the right way as opposed to rolling home with my tail between my legs.  I felt very good from the day's effort.  The hills at Ahquabi quickly reminded me what lies ahead in the near future as the first race is at Swanson in 2 weeks.

Celebrating Chuck's Birthday

Headed over to Joel and Deb's house for dinner for a group of 9 of us that celebrated his birthday with a 5 course meal.  It was a fun evening and I noted that Joel and Deb bought new Trek bikes that were hanging in the garage.  Joel got a carbon Trek road bike that looks pretty spiffy.

Weight Goals

I weighed in at 184.6 the morning after the birthday party/5 course dinner.  So I don't know if I'll hit sub 184 this weekend.  5 courses was not the way to lose weight - especially with a huge piece of chocolate cake, lots of cheese, and a few glasses of fermented grapes.  Maybe tomorrow morning will get me closer after today's Zone 2 ride and eating a bit more disciplined...

In spite of that, I have calculated a few things weight wise to set goals.  The 2012 May Issue of Bicycling had an article entitled "Your Ideal Cycling Weight".  According to the article, the standard formula to figure out a baseline weight for men is 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, and 6 pounds per inch after that.  For me, that's 75.39 inches which calculates as 106 + 92.34 = 198.34.  I currently weigh 184.6, so I am below the base weight.  From there, you measure your wrist size to calculate your body's frame size.  For me, the wrist size calculates out that I am fine where I am.  However, if I want to improve performance and find a better ideal weight, I need to subtract 10% of my base weight to find my "ideal cycling target".  That equals 178.5 pounds.  I've been down to 177 before and cycled for a season at the weight and it was great for climbing.  So 178ish is sort of where I hope I am headed over the next couple of months by shedding another 6 pounds.  I think this is a realistic target that I can achieve without a major overhaul in my lifestyle.

Another calculation in that article is called "Get Competitive".  They say that for men, a competitive cycling weight is between 2.1 and 2.4 pounds per inch.  That's right from Joe Friel's book.  If I calculate that out for me, I get to a competitive cycling weight in the range of 158 - 181 pounds.  If that's true, I'm just a few pounds away from being competitive.  Well, at least for guys my size.  It's not going to help me against the 130-160 pound riders going up the hill, that's for sure.  Obviously, the climbing gets better nearer the 2.1 pounds per inch figure, but I'm not setting my target for that this season as it would take about 26 weeks to get there in a healthy fashion from my current weight.  I'll be happy to hit the upper end of the range and play it be ear from there.

The good news is the weight loss is a free upgrade! 

New Road Bike Search

That's right.  I'm on the prowl and search for a road bike.  Zack's is a size 58cm frame and I am a bit cramped on it.  It's got the shimmy at high speed and the typical problems for big and tall riders. Being that I am doing a lot of training on the road and I am doing RAGBRAI this year, it's probably time I get my own dedicated machine.

Where to start is another thing.  I don't like the super hunched over aero road racing position, so some of the more relaxed fit frames attract me (Specialized Roubaix, Secteur, etc...).  It needs a longer head tube, and the idea of disc brakes such as the Roubaix Disc or the Secteur disc look promising and really are attracting me, but come to find out they don't sell the Roubaix disc in the US (only in England) and the Secteur with disc brakes - although listed as coming in 61cm and 64cm frames - is only available up to size 58cm according to the computer stock system at Rassy's.  RATS!!!

It sucks being tall as the cycling industry (outside of Leonard Zinn) is obviously run by a bunch of not very tall folks.  Ditto on the airline industry in terms of Economy seats!!!  Case in point, go talk to a salesman at your typical LBS.  They'll be about 5'7" - 5'10" (5'10 1/2" is the average US white male height by the way) and fill you with all sorts of information about the racing frames and various bikes having less of an idea what it is like to get a good fit on a bike for us tall men.  If you ask if they have any 61cm or 64cm frames in stock and you might get a blank stare, then a mad dash over to check their inventory data and announce they have maybe one in a box somewhere or maybe one is on the floor, or the most usual - they could order one.

That being said, following a similar scenario above, I did do a short test ride on one of the mid-level Specialized Secteur Comp Apex size 61cm bikes at Rassy's the other day.  It's the alloy version of the more expensive carbon Roubaix and has the relaxed fit with the longer head tube.  The same bike in a Comp Apex version is not available in 2013 as they came out with the 2 disc brake models (which are not available in the 61/64cm sizes).  There were some changes to the fork/head tube juncture in the 2013 Roubaix/Secteur models - so again, the discounted price on the 2012 model would mean I miss out on some nice tweaks they made this year.

SecteurComp2012

Not a bad looking bike and a bit of a discount since it is a 2012 model.  It did feel a lot better than my son's Allez 58cm, but still felt a tad small to me without some changes (different stem needed, longer cranks, maybe a wider bar) and left me itching to toss my leg over a 64cm frame just to make sure.  However, no 64cm's in stock to try.  The component list and the more relaxed fit of the Secteur Comp would probably do just fine for me and I will have to go back and take a closer look.  Hard to tell on a parking lot test without my gear on and really hammering it to see how it does.  Tempting, but I would like to see a few other things before deciding.  I'm not sure what the MSRP was on the Comp Apex in 2012 or what the discounted price would be if I bought it, but I'll find all of that out.  I guess the color scheme would work in Iowa as the black/gold/white is Hawkeyeish.   It's not my favorite color combo.  But hey, this would be a training tool and I don't need to overthink it too much, right?

Leonard Zinn looks to have it nailed on a joint venture he did with KHS bikes.  The Flite 747 (now there's a name for those of us with a big wingspan) is for guys that are 6'4" - 6'6".  Long head tube.  Short and stiff chainstay.  Kept the HT and ST angles good for stability and actually developed a proper size fork with the right amount of trail for a tall man.  No shimmy at high speeds.  36H rims with sturdy spokes.  200mm cranks with a higher BB to account for that.  And the price is around $1700.

This could be the bike for me.  The bike looks pretty good for the price and tall man specific build.  Going custom through Zinn directly would cost about twice that amount for a steel frame, more for an aluminum alloy or carbon frame.

KHS-Flite-747

It doesn't look too bad out of the box.  Sort of an old classic look.  I'm not a huge fan of the big KHS white decals shown in the picture on the TT, DT and fork, but the rest of the bike looks acceptable.  The fit is more important.

For my own edification and working through some sizing information, I will plug in my Zinn fit numbers for a road bike here.

First in an aggressive road bike riding position...

ZinnAggressiveRoadFit

Recommends a 633mm TT with a 130mm stem and a 195mm crank.  Guess what, the KHS Flite 747 comes with a 620mm TT, a 130mm stem, and a 200mm crank.  And the BB height is 292mm for the KHS which closely matches the suggested 289mm BB height from Zinn.

Then as a more recreational road bike riding position...

ZinnRelaxedRoadFit
Recommends a 609mm TT with a 128mm stem, and a 195mm crank.  That would explain why the Specialized 61cm Secteur frame and the 110mm stem I tried felt a bit too "short" on my little parking lot test ride.  I would need to boost the stem at least a good 15 - 20 mm in length to get my recommended "recreational fit" on the Specialized bike.  It also points out why I want to toss a leg over a 64cm Secteur as the geometry of that bike fits better for an aggressive position, but would still be a shorter reach with the 615mm TT and 120mm stem that it comes with than the recommended aggressive or even the recreational position Zinn claims is my fit.  So perhaps the 64cm Specialized would be a route that I could probably upgrade to a bit longer cranks (not much room for this without a higher BB, but maybe I could get away with 180mm's).

If going with the KHS, I could easily run a different stem for a "recreational fit" on that bike, plus still get close to the ideal crank length that Zinn suggested.

Here's the KHS Flite 747 Geometry Chart (it's only available in one size)...

KHS Flite 747 Geometry Chart

All in all, it sounds like the KHS is about as close as I could get to buying a stock bike that "fits" for me.

Of course, the dealer in Des Moines does not stock this Flite 747 bike and was trying to talk me into a Long Haul Trucker from Surly over the phone because he likes that bike.  I don't want a Surly Long Haul Trucker, but the dealer could order the Flite 747 for me with a 50% deposit.  Not sure what would happen if I don't like it, but perhaps a restocking fee would be involved.  Again - tall men are out of luck when they want to toss a leg over a demo bike.  I guess, at the very least, if it just didn't work I could pay a restocking fee or if I buy the dang thing and it doesn't work out - I could sell it on eBay to another tall drink of water and not be out several thousand if I invested in a carbon road bike that didn't fit quite right.

I've even thought about buying a frame and fork (61cm or 64cm frame with a fork that has an uncut steerer tube) to build my own bike getting the components I want (at least 180mm cranks and wider bars - maybe 440mm or 460mm wide).

This 2011 Allez E5 frame is available in 61cm with an uncut steerer tube which would allow me to dial in a nice relaxed fit.

spec_7010_42_11_z

The question is if I could build it up economically enough to match the Flite 747 or a full bike from Specialized in 64cm price.

What to do?  Decisions, decisions....


3/22/13

Worked over and tender...

Thank God it's Friday!!!

At least training wise that is.  I weighed in at 184.4 this morning, so my weight is spending time "hovering" at the moment and hopefully is getting ready to go sub 184 over the weekend due to the amount of hours on the bike I have planned. 


Friday is an optional short recovery ride in the morning (which I will get on the dog walk) and a short core/upper body workout in the early evening for me.  That's just what I need after Wednesday and Thursday's sessions.  I'm also singing a Sinatra tune with the jazz band tonight at the Nostalgia Dance.  So a day off the bike is good to get hydrated and the pipes working.

Wednesday began with taking advantage of the frozen earth and getting some dirt riding before work.  I turned the rear shock on the JET 9 to the non Pro Pedal position to get full squish on the hard as a rock dirt.  The evening was a weight lifting session and I upped the plates on my power cleans and pushpress barbell lifts.  I believe I added just a little too much weight (30 pounds more) compared to the last session doing these.  In spite of that, I was able to complete them all with a few grunts and grimaces, but my body was really sore on Thursday as a result.

Thursday was a Zone 4 interval day which extended from the prior week's session of 32 minutes in Zone 4 to this week's call for 40 minutes in Zone 4 via 5 x 8 minute intervals with 2 minutes recovery between each interval.  I did this outside last week which seems to yield better results for me than sitting on the C7i in the basement, but I was in the basement to keep me honest.  I didn't feel recovered enough from the weight lifting session on Wednesday to try the Zone 4 workout in the morning before I headed into the office.  So I came home on my lunch break to do them.

Zone 4 for me is currently based on the last 20 minute power test and claims that my Zone 4 is 242 - 280 Watts.  So I launched into interval number 1 pegged right at 280 Watts.  No sense in working my way up to the top end of Zone 4, right?  Just nail it out of the gate to simulate race start pace.  Cross-eyed as I was by the end of it - I finished it and wondered if 2 minutes of recovery would be enough.  By the time I had those thoughts, the 2 minutes of recovery were up and off I went into the next interval.  The next 2 intervals were more around the low end of Zone 4 in the 242-251 Watt range and those felt easier.  I vary the cadence and power level to maintain the wattage and really work the cadence in a more realistic manner of what mountain biking is - constantly changing cadence.  The two lower end Zone 4 intervals restored my confidence to hit the upper end pain cave again.  I rounded out with the final 2 intervals targeting the 270 - 280 Watt area and finished strong.  These things are not quite as fun to do in the basement compared to doing them outside, but I completed the honest workout on the C7i that cuts me no slack (hence - honest), showered, and went back to work for the afternoon.

So, from a training standpoint and chance to recover a bit before the scheduled 5 1/2 hours on the bike this weekend, I will repeat what I said to start this post...

Thank God it's Friday!!! 


3/20/13

1st Day of SPRING 2013!!!!

It's here.  Spring that is...

1st Day of SPRING!!!

18 degrees with 23mph winds make for a rather rude morning awakening  - temperature wise that is.  I'm heading out to hit dirt while it is still frozen...


3/19/13

Trainers 'R Us....

I hit the weights last night after rehearsal and did an hour of lifting from 9 - 10 p.m. before crashing in bed for the night.  No booze at all.  I just crashed from exhaustion of a slight cold and a long day at work.

The dogs awakened me at 6 a.m. ready to start their day with a big bowl of food.  Oy!  Thus began Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

The weather was gorgeous today, but I had no time to ride outside in the upper 30's to 40 degree sunshine.  Faculty meeting, rehearsal with jazz band at 6:30 and the arrival of Tara and Alexa from California.  So....

Instead, I got up at 6 a.m. with the dogs and ate my breakfast to fuel a morning workout.  After several cups of coffee, the morning dog walk, a load of laundry, a load of dishes and a bit of watching CNBC - I suited up to hop on the C7i Trainer.

This is how I felt during the first 15 minutes, or at least the picture of this man reminded me of how I felt....

2Pooped2Pedal

...well....except I don't have a beard, was wearing lycra, have clipless pedals and shoes, and hopefully my hair is not quite that white - yet.

I set my spin rate and jacked it to 202 watts to capture the top end of my Zone 2 and worked through the hour with about a dozen 12 second full out sprints mixed into the equation.  I started the sprints only after I hit the 15 minute mark to make sure I was warmed up and no longer slumped over the handlebars.  ;-)  Something must be coming together with my training as my heart rate for 202 watts is a lot lower than it was 3 months ago going into base training.  It was hanging around 141-144 at that effort once I recovered from each sprint.  

Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  Ha!  

A high of 29 and I just might celebrate by going out early in the morning to ride at Lake Ahquabi on "dirt", or rather "frozen earth".  That's wishful thinking, but I would like to try it out to get some hill work done.  I'm not sick of the trainer, but I am thankful to know that the end of the "Trainers 'R Us" season is just about over - be it this week, next week, or the next. 

3/18/13

Weekend riding...

I hit all of my training hours this weekend!!!

In spite of the cold, riding outside was not bad at all.  I didn't have to layer up as much as I thought and riding in upper 20's to mid 30's in dry weather was actually very enjoyable.  Either that, or I have simply adjusted over the winter to deal with it.  ;-)

We have entered soup season for off road riding...

Soup

Until things dry out - or get below freezing enough to have the ground solid (which it was on Sunday morning for a few hours) - it's on the pavement, gravel and in the basement for the rest of March.  I have faith that warm weather is coming.  It was 86 on April 2nd last year and we grilled and ate outside.  I know it will be here soon and the earth will dry up so we can ride off road and start the mountain bike racing season.

I got out for two hours on Saturday which had a strong wind blowing out of the north.  That made the ride to Carlisle a grunt, but the road bike allowed me to tuck down into the tooth of the wind and grind it out.  Turning around and heading back south was almost a joke.  The wind was so strong I could stay in Zone 2 even on the big ring and smallest 2 cogs.  It was like riding downhill all the way home.  Zack and I hit up Americana on Saturday for dinner and then went to the student directed plays at Simpson.

Sunday's plan was to join up with Bike Iowa fellow team members and pre-ride the Gents Race 70 mile gravel route.  They were going to roll at 7:30, but I had to be at a student recital at Simpson at 2 pm and I feared I wouldn't be able to make it back.  Turns out, I was right.  They finished about 1:30 which would not have given me enough time to drive back from Kyle's Bikes in Ankeny to make the 2 pm curtain.

So I altered my plans and got my pastrami on the Big Green Egg to smoke for 8 hours.  It's my annual St. Patty's day smoke where I buy a couple of corned beef chunks, soak them in water over night to remove the salt, rub them up with mustard and my own recipe - and smoke them for some NY deli style pastrami.  And, as usual, it seems it is just Zack and I around this time a year as the ladies are off on spring break and out in California enjoying real spring weather.

Smokin'....

Pastramify It!

Slicin'...

Pastrami Mania!!!

Yum.  And we have enough pastrami for a week!!!

While the cow was smoking on the Egg, I suited up and enjoyed the sunshine for a 2 1/2 hour Zone 2/3 ride which is what was scheduled.  This time, I was again against the wind going to Carlisle.  Looking forward to the turn, imagine my shock as the wind suddenly shifted as if somebody flipped a switch and I had to face a headwind all the way home as well!!!  Well, that certainly made it easy for me to keep it in Zone 3!!!

I got home in time to shower, check the meat, adjust the temperature a bit lower and then head to a trio of recitals at 2, 3:15 and 4:30 - all of which were excellent recitals!!

Zack went out to eat with two of the recitalists and I went home to enjoy some warm pastrami, bread, Irish white cheddar cheese and a couple of beers on my own while watching 60 Minutes.  Such was my Sunday.  Then I took the dogs for a walk while I rode the Karate Monkey.  Wow!  The huge 2.4 Racing Ralphs and the Karate Monkey felt huge after spending the weekend on the road bike with the little tires and somewhat undersized frame for me (it's Zack's and is only a 58cm frame which is very small for me).  The Monkey is the right size, but suddenly I was aware how large it is compared to the road bike.

ChiantiKM

Regardless of the bike or the bike size, I booked my 4 1/2 hours on the bike, and 60 minutes of core work which brought my annual hours up to 83.  I'll finish March with my annual total around 107.5 hours which is right on target for around 433 annual hours this year. 

Time to shovel the snow that fell this morning (2 inches) and head off to work.


3/15/13

Spring riding....and Betsy is GONE!!!

Two days of glorious spring weather have been served up here in Warren County.  That, combined with the time change allowing me to have daylight after work set up a wonderful Thursday evening bike ride to take advantage of the 48 degree temperature.

Even better, my final lesson of the day had to cancel which got me on the bike 30 minutes sooner than I thought I was going to be able to do.  I hopped on the road bike...

P1010001

...and got 2 hours in on the Summerset Trail and worked in what was on tap for the day's training - 4 x 8 minute Zone 4 intervals with a one minute Zone 1/2 recovery between.  The first one did it's usual magic and stung me into reality wondering if I would be able to complete all 4, but after that first one the other 3 were just fine.  I got home about 20 minutes before 6 with a good exercise endorphin high.

I made a huge salad with fresh springs, mandarin oranges, nuts, onions, green peppers, bacon, raisins and baked a small size pizza we had in the freezer.  Zack and I devoured it all as it was quite tasty and my hunger was raging after the 2 hour ride with the intervals.

I woke up sub 185 pounds for the first time since this off season training began!!!  184.4 to be exact.  I am locked on the 180 target as the first landing point to achieve my goal.  Going sub 180 is the second target goal (175-177 area).  And that will be the unknown territory as I try to find a balance of maintaining my power output and cut weight to improve my power to weight ratio on the bike.

Mr. BFM Scale is keeping me honest...

BFMScale 

Today will be nearly 60 degrees, and I did a recovery ride in the 55 degree temperature to take advantage of the spring weather.  I even checked out some local gravel to see what the current condition is on the peanut butter.

March 15th weather

BikeIowa cycling team is getting together Sunday morning to pre-ride the Gents Race course.  I'm trying to decide which bike to take for the 70 miles of gravel based on what the gravel is like right now and what it might be like on Sunday.  The forecast is for 45 degrees and sunny on Sunday and I would like to think that yesterday and today should go a long way at drying out the gravel so things should ride pretty quick on Sunday.  Kyle Sedore "claims" we will ride at a friendly pace....which means I better eat my Wheaties and have plenty of fuel to keep me turning the cranks over for 5 hours.

I have a recording session at 3:30 up in Norwalk this afternoon to record 3 songs based on poetry by Rod McKuen that my colleague Ron Albrecht composed for me.  We will perform them next year on my faculty recital, but the recording will be sent to Mr. McKuen to get his take before final publishing of the music.  Tonight I will attend the Cabaret evening at Simpson that Phi Mu and Mu Phi are doing.

Betsy is GONE!!!

P1010003

After numerous posts on Craigslist and several months of me lowering the asking price, I finally got 8 phone calls on Sunday and Monday when my price must have hit the tipping point.  The first of those 8 showed up on Tuesday morning with cash, took a test drive and gave me what I was asking for it on the spot.  First come, first served won the car and we filled out the paperwork before I watched Betsy and 10 years of family memories with her drive away.

It's nice to have an extra parking spot in the garage again as Betsy has been in the garage since November.




3/14/13

Working through a leg cramp...and the nest is 1/2 empty.

After 9 days off the bike, the dehydration from the 11 hour flight and two consecutive days of Zone 2 this past weekend - I guess I was set up for an interesting Monday.

I felt fine going into the scheduled lower body weight training on Monday and got suited up to do the lifts.  I warmed up on the bike for 20 minutes to get the blood flowing, did some light stretches and loaded the plates on the squat bar.  The first set of 5 was fine.   The second of set of 5 with 10 more pounds of weight was fine.  In fact, everything felt fine and I was on schedule to complete another successful leg lifting session.  Or so I thought....

After loading up the plates for the 3rd set, I tripped over a small foam pad on the floor that Tara uses on her recumbent exercise bike and my upper left leg cramped and seized up.  Ouch!!!

Tough Guy

I haven't cramped in the legs in a couple of years thanks to a good regimen of nutrition, training, rest and recovery.  But it hit me hard.  I grabbed some pickle juice, drank some water, took some endurolytes, massaged and tried to stretch it out - all to no avail.  Monday's workout session was officially over and I had to bag it.  Even though I tried to take in enough water on the long trip back from Germany, I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated and after 9 days of doing several hours a day of walking I think my legs were just missing the rest and the minerals they need.  I ended up taking some Ibuprofen on Monday night to help mitigate the cramp pain in my left leg.

I hit these the rest of the day and on Tuesday as well, along with a few other minerals and more pickle juice sports drink.

Endurolytes

I bounced back on Tuesday and completed my on the bike workout with no issues and the leg felt better.  I even managed to eat a fairly light dinner and fell asleep by 9:30. 

I got up at 4:00 am on Wednesday morning to take Tara and Alexa to the airport.  It is their spring break and they flew out to San Francisco to be with family and friends.  Yes, I wish I could have gone along, but our spring breaks were not the same week this year.  Luckily, with my jet lag, waking up between 3 and 4 am was quite easy to do.  I came home and slept for another 3 hours before heading into a full day of work.  We had a candidate interviewing for a voice position at Simpson, so I went to the luncheon to meet her and I ended up eating way too much.  I nibbled on some bad stuff - as in chips and even a brownie which are both no-no's along with my turkey sandwich, fruit and even was relegated to drinking a Diet Coke - which is also a no-no!!!  I guess I should even toss in that the turkey sandwich had mayo on it from the catering company and it was on a croissant - two more no-no's!!!    It's amazing how one little simple luncheon served to 15 faculty members can be filled with so many terribly unhealthy things.

Ah.....one bad meal isn't the end of the world, but I felt absolutely helpless with the lack of choices and we have 3 more of these lunches in the next two weeks with candidates.  I'll have to plan a strategy like eat the meat off of the croissant, scrape off the mayo, avoid the chips and dessert and bring a bottle of water with me to drink.  Or bring my own food.  Rant over.

The afternoon was non-stop crazy in the office and I didn't leave work until about 6:20 which meant it would be a late dinner (8 pm).

Wednesday was another lifting session (different lifts were on the schedule than I was supposed to have done on Monday), but I decided to try the lower body squats and deadlifts as they are more crucial than what Wednesday called for in the workout.  I was well hydrated, had my minerals and felt good.  Regardless of that, I entered the session with trepidation as to what would happen with my left leg.  Would it seize up in the middle of a squat?  If it did, what would I do with nearly 200 pounds on my back?  Luckily, all reps and sets were pain free and I completed the hour workout without any cramping or issues.  Whew!  The legs are sore this morning as it had been a little more than 2 weeks since I had done a lower body weight lifting workout.

I got a couple of lean 8 ounce New York Strips and broiled them (they were on sale at Hy-Vee for $5.99) to help with the muscle rebuild after lifting the weights, made a fresh springs salad, and baked some sweet potatoes for dinner.  Zack and I devoured it all while watching American Idol.   We had fresh fruit for dessert before hitting the sack. 

3/12/13

The Mullet Fall Classic receives Reader's Choice Award....!!!!

I had mentioned back in early February that the mountain bike race I host, The Mullet Fall Classic, had been nominated for a Reader's Choice Award by Momentum Magazine. 

Well, the March issue just came out for Momentum Magazine and the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards are listed.

Drum roll please............

Mullet is Top

I feel humbled and thank everyone who voted.  As I said in early February, I am already busy working behind the scenes to make this year even better for the October 6th race at Lake Ahquabi.  Following the sage advice of Chad Vande Lune, better doesn't mean shooting for huge growth where the event loses it's fun atmosphere and vibe that has already been created.

That being said, the 2013 race season is about to commence as we all wrap up our winter base training and start to rotate into our build phases.  It begins in 4 weeks for the Psycowpath Series in Nebraska on April 6-7, and in 5 weeks for the IMBCS here in Iowa on April 14th.




3/10/13

Back on the horse...

Hopped off the plane late Friday night, went to bed and slept straight through the night.  Amen!   Jet lag is much worse flying east than it is west - at least for me.

Week 9 of my base training plan was a scheduled rest and recovery week, so my coach told me to just use my trip to Germany as a R & R week and do some walking.  Well, as you know - walking I did!!!  Rather than try to make up for what I missed, coach said to just skip it and get back on the bike with the final 2 days of that week when I got home.

So Saturday called for me to get 2 hours of Zone 2 riding outside.  Due to it raining, I decided to climb back on the horse in the basement for 90 minutes of Zone 2 and then do 30 minutes of upper body weights.

The C7i horse was smiling at me yesterday to go for a spin...

HomeGymBike

The first 5 minutes had me feeling like superman as I took off in high Zone 2 and then I realized I better dial it back to lower Zone 2 and warm-up a bit.  So I backed of the watts to lower end Zone 2 and worked my way back to mid range for that zone.  Every 10 minutes, I stood and did a high Zone 2 60 second out of saddle spin.  I felt good at the end of 90 minutes and enjoyed watching Tiger Woods score a 5 under par round while on the C7i.   Then I hit the upper body weights (had only done push-ups over in Germany) and that felt good as well.

Tara made dinner - shrimp, rice and broccoli - before I was out like a light at 8:30.  I woke up at 2:10 to use the facilities, then fell back asleep until 6:30 this morning (7:30 with the time switch).  So it appears that I had no problems getting back to this time zone from Germany.

I woke up this morning, and the 5 pounds I lost are still lost.  Weigh in was 185.  I'm 1/2 way to my minimal goal of getting to 180 for the beginning of cycling season.  The first race is just 3 weeks away - right at the end of my base training.  I don't think I've ever started a race season at 180, but it is my goal to get there as well as to chip away a bit more and go sub 180 after I make it to 180.  My lowest has been reaching 177 in the past 5 or 6 years and I would like to get there for sure.  I might not make it to 180 in 3 weeks time for the first race as that is quite a bit of weight to shed and would probably involve a bit of muscle loss to get there which I don't want to do until racing season begins.  A bit more discipline will be required on my part to get there and maintain it, but it's now or never, right?  I will see how I feel and perform at 180 and then decide if working down to 177 or 175 without any loss in performance is a doable thing.  I think it is, but I am leaving my options open.

Today is an easy 2 hours with a 30 minute Zone 1 warm up before dialing it up into Zone 2.  It's raining outside and snow is headed this way, so it looks like more watching golf on television from Doral and more C7i basement riding with the fans blowing on me to keep me cool and my heart rate down.

We are heading to Macaroni Grill in Des Moines for dinner to take advantage of the coupons they sent us for our bad meal back in January.   This time, we'll order smart - as in something they can't mess up like a wood burning oven pizza.

3/9/13

Home from Germany - or "How I Lost Weight in Deutschland"!!!

After the usual long day of sitting in an airplane to cross the Atlantic, I arrived home late Friday night from my week in Germany.  I did get a lot accomplished during the week in terms of lining up things for 2015, but I didn't accomplish everything I had intended on doing mainly due to the limitations of time.  It takes a ot of time to travel and scout out everything I wanted students to see during their semester abroad for my class, so I skipped the places I knew and went to some new things I had never seen before.

The sub-heading of "How I Lost Weight in Deutschland" refers to the reality that I ended up walking miles and miles on a daily basis (Nürnberg, Schorndorf, Stuttgart, Tübingen).  My legs are on the side of overdone toast due to all of the walking.  This coupled with me not eating very large meals all ended up in a 5 pound weight loss for the week.  Wow!  The first day I walked 4 1/2 hours and that ended up almost being one of my "easy" days.  Two of the days were more "recovery" like walking days where I walked less distance and at a slower pace to recover.  I went over to Germany with a cold that did turn into a cough, but I was able to curtail it with cough Robitussin suppressant and Mucinex cough suppressant.  By the time I came home, my cold was gone.

A few photographs from the journey....

Here's the classroom used for the morning and afternoon classes in the Volkshochschule

PCinClassSchorndorf

The entrance to the Schloßtübingen

SchloßHohentübingen

A wonderful cheese stand (Käsestand) at the open air market in Schorndorf

KäsestandSchorndorf

The Neckar River (some very nice beer is crafted in this town!!!)

DerFlussNeckar

Some of the students took me on a tour to show me where they like to hangouts in Schorndorf.  We stopped for a beverage here at the Cafe Moser

CafeMoser

The open air market in Schorndorf is held every Tuesday and Saturday all year long where you buy fresh produce, cheese, meat, flowers, baked goods, etc...

Schorndorf Market

I stopped carrying my camera and shoulder pack after the first few days to the stress it was placing on my shoulder and back.  I left it in the Hotel and just went with what I could carry in my pockets.  Things warmed up after I arrived and no jacket was required for 4 of the days I was there as temperatures reached the mid to upper 60's.

Cycling abounds in the town of Schorndorf with mountain biking, road biking, paved cycling paths, Forstrasse (gravel and dirt fire roads through the woods), and bikes are allowed on trains to travel to and from where one wants to ride.  There is a lot of downhill mountain biking in the area, but between January and April it's too muddy for that type of riding, and there is too much snow for mountain biking in January - February.  However, I did see hundreds of mountain bikers heading off into the woods as things warmed up and the snow melted.  In terms of Downhill mountain biking, I'm not worried about that type of riding as I am not a DH mountain biker to begin with in the first place.  There are two wonderful bike shops in Schorndorf itself - and of course I stopped in and visited with employees in both shops to get an idea of what kind of cycling I could do there in 2015.  One in particular - http://www.bikesnboards.de/http://www.bikesnboards.de/ - is a real specialty shop with an excellent focus on mountain bikes from Cube, Specialized, and Scott.  The other shop is a Freeride specialty mountain biking store that features Cannondale and some European brands.

That's about it for now.  Time to unpack my suitcase, do the laundry and get caught up with things here in the house before the school week starts on Monday.