Ridelog – flats

Man, flat tires are frustrating. I got a new set of tires and have enjoyed about 1400 miles with no flats. I thought I’d found the wonderdrug. Unfortunately, the tires weren’t the cure-all I was looking for. Yesterday, about 15 miles into a group ride we hit a stretch of gravel. Not my usual terrain, but I’ve ridden on it before. I don’t know why, but this gravel was harder to navigate than usual. Anyway, 3 of us flatted, and I double flatted. I put in my new tube, and patched the other, but the patch didn’t hold. My second patch attempt looked to work after filling it up with CO2, but then the tube exploded before I even got on the bike. I guess I pinched it. meh.

Fortunately, Pamela came to the rescue and gave me a ride back home. I think I’m going to start carrying 3 new tubes at all times.. my saddle bag is big enough.

Lessons of the day:
1. buy some gatorskins at earliest financial convenience.
Tips from Naveen:
2. frame pumps rule.
3. carrying 4 water bottles isn’t lame.

In other riding news, I’ve increased my long rides to 60-ish miles. I’ve also been doing most of my riding in zone 1 in attempts to drop some weight. I’ve not done any racing since the last post, but I think I’m going to do the Firecracker 50 this weekend, and hopefully a few more in coming months if my entry fee money holds out.

I managed to break my front dérailleur somehow. I’ve been using it broken for the past two weeks, and it gets by, but every so often it dumps the chain. I ordered a replacement Rival piece from ebay for $5. Hopefully it will get here today and go on tomorrow.
I’ve also got my mountain bike assembled. It’s basically all the parts from a ’99 GT XCR4000 I got at goodwill for $25 migrated to a 1993 GT RTS frame and Rockshox Tora 318 fork. With all the wet weather lately, I’ve not had a chance to go trail riding, but I am pretty stoked about the bike in general despite the fact that it’s pretty ancient.

Mountain bike

ridelog – the past few months

I’ve been somewhat lax on the ridelog updates lately. I figure now is a good time to catch up, since the collegiate season has just finished up, and the semester is over. While I can’t participate in collegiate races, they seem to be the bread and butter of my riding peer group and training kind of revolves around that.

Picking up where I left off, the Brown County race wiped me out for a while. While it was something of an accomplishment to finish it, and also to have ridden my first race, I think the severity of the climbs and my lack of climbing ability kind of messed me up physically.

I finally got recovered from that and started making some forward progress. This hinged on some psychological and bio-mechanical observations. Namely, I realized that I wasn’t “pushing it”, literally or figuratively. For example, when I started riding, I was going all out just to keep up. As my health improved, I didn’t have to try as hard for the same (or more) output. So basically I had arrived at a situation of easy pedaling everything except climbs. With the use of the pedal technique I wrote about in the last post, I started physically pushing more and trying to vary my force depending on the situation. On the mental side, I started trying to maintain the high force levels. The result was higher average speed.

Another big thing for my riding was practice criteriums with the cycling club. 3 or 4 times we rode out to a middle school with a circular drive around it and did short circuit races. I was generally off the back pretty quickly, but it was a lot of fun and was excellent practice for race skills like cornering and drafting that I otherwise really wouldn’t have the opportunity to work on outside of real races. I hope we do more of this next year.

With a little practice under my belt, I entered the Cat 4/5 crit at the Marian College race. As usual, I was worried about falling off the back, and burnt up too much energy in the first lap. In the second lap, I figured out (similarly to the brown county race) I could get aero on the small decent, stay with the group I was in, and save my legs for the climb. The third lap I continued with this pattern, got comfortable, and found a nice spot in the group I was with, drafting off of a very tall guy. Unfortunately, I flatted out shortly thereafter. My relatively poor performance in this race as well as the practice crits kind of put me off of racing this season. I still plan on doing a few more for practice, but hope of a reasonable finish are kind of out the window. At this point, my barely educated opinion is that I didn’t get enough base miles, and I didn’t do enough long rides early on.

So, speaking of training education, I got the Joe Friel book and have been going through it. I’m going to start a training plan for next year. Right now I’m kind of stuck on getting realistic diagnostic numbers. (lactate threshold, etc) There seems to be too much variance in the testing procedures for my brain to accept the numbers as real. I’m currently waiting to hear back from the lady here at Purdue who does performance testing. Hoping I can get in on that and get VO2 max, lung capacity and all that other stuff.. we’ll see. Regardless, I think my big goal for next season is to do well enough to upgade to Cat 4, and I want to work towards that by 1. not being last in a race 2. finishing in the front half of a race and 3. finishing in the top 10 of a race. I’m still not sure if all of that is realistic or not.. we’ll see.

On the gear front, the Dura Ace is on the bike and works pretty good. the big difference is the ease of front deraileur shifting. The down side is that I get more cross chaining than I’d hoped. Also, after flatting out at the Marian crit, I decided I needed to have a second set of wheels for flat tire replacement. I grabbed a set of the Forte Titan wheels from performance. They are certainly nothing fancy, but at $160 for the pair, they were really about the best thing in the price range. They are a low spoke count, (16 front, 24 rear), mildly aero rim weighing in at about 1700g, at least a 400g savings over my stock wheels. I was a little concerned with the low spoke count, but they seem to be holding up well. The reviews were mostly good, except for rear hub flange damage that occurred in a previous version. Also notably, these are apparently rebranded neuvation wheels. The price difference between the two isn’t huge, but I thought it would be good to have Performance’s 100% satisfaction guarantee. Additionally, I suffered a string of flats and decided it might be time for new tires. John at Old Skool Cycles just started carrying Serfas stuff, so after checking some (all good) reviews, I ordered a set of SECA RS tires. I’ve only been out on them once, but they seem pretty good so far. I also got a pair of Serfas RX gloves since it’s getting too hot to ride with my full finger gloves. The main reason I wanted these is because they have pull loops on the fingers making it really easy to get them off. (usually a problem for me with fingerless gloves) they are also supposedly designed by doctors to reduce pressure on nerves or something. I’ll put up a review once I spend some more time with them.

Finally, I wanted to post something about getting out of shape. With summer in full force, I’ve been trying to get a lot of household/hobby projects done, and not riding as much. Last week I got 1 ride in on tuesday, and didn’t ride again until yesterday. (wensday) It was seriously rough. My quads were hurting 3 miles in, and my saddle was feeling pretty painful. My average speed was also way down. I didn’t realize that my condition could decline so much so fast. I’ve got to try and keep my weekly ride time up. I think it doesn’t help that I’ve been slightly discouraged from my weak race performance, which may be getting me kind of burnt out.. we’ll see.

ridelog – first race, pseudo-training, etc

I’ve not been posting here as much as I should. There are a couple of topics I want to get down.

iMapMyRide: Mar 21, 2010 4:01 PM
Find more Bike Rides in Nashville, Indiana

First, I rode in my first race, the Brown County road race. I mostly chose this race because there haven’t been any other USAC races around here, and I am anxious to get some racing experience under my belt. Little did I realize that this event was billed as the most difficult race in Indiana. My initial goal was just to finish, but once I rode the course, my goal became to get through more than 1 lap – the climb was nuts! I did Cat 4/5, which was 5 laps of the 5 mile course. It was pretty awesome when the group took off; I was moving around in the pack down the big descent and keeping up and all that.. then we hit the first part of the climb. I remember watching everyone in front of me slow to a crawl and the “click click click” of sixty some guys shifting all at once. After that, it pretty much ceased to be a race for me and became an endurance ride, since my terrible climbing skills had me _way_ off the back. I soldiered on through the climb, spending quality time with the little ring on my cranks for the first time in months. It really kind of sucked. As I approached the lap line, I considered giving up, because I really didn’t think I could make it up the hills again. Fortunately, the descent was fun enough, that I decided to do one more lap just to ride it. This kept me going till the end of the race. I was in the weeniest gear the whole climb; 60RPM / 4mph. I just coasted most of the descents at around 40mph.

Four days later, my legs are still sore. I wound up in 49th place – the last of the finishers, but 15 or so didn’t finish, so I feel like it was a positive outcome. The next race I’m planning is a crit in Indy the weekend after next. I really don’t know what to expect from a crit, but it’s a really flat course, so I’m hoping that I can be at least halfway competitive.

Topic 2 – Training. I tried to come up with a half-hearted pre-race training routine. It sucked. Basically, I had the first saturday and sunday off and I rode MTWThS. Monday I rode hard, working on pedal technique. It was a good, fast ride. Tuesday was a group ride that was longer than usual, with more climbing than usual, but otherwise a slow pace. I felt super strong on that ride. I climbed some hills quickly, etc. I guess I didn’t realize how hard I was putting it down that day, because my legs felt like crap Wensday and Thursday, and I ended up skipping Friday and only doing 10 miles on Saturday. My legs didn’t hurt for the race Sunday, but they didn’t feel strong either. The lesson I take away from this is: I probably shouldn’t be concerned with training. Just ride.

Somewhat along these lines, I’ve been trying to monitor my performance a bit so I can try to find things to improve on. The biggest discovery was a different way to think about pedal technique. I’ve heard lots of different advice for pedaling “circles” instead of “squares”, notably, the Carmichael videos instruct to focus on the bottom of the stroke “like scraping mud off your shoe” and “throwing your foot over the top”. This was mildly helpful, but seemed not quite right. At some point, I started thinking of my feet as repelling magnets – whatever one did, the other did the opposite around the crank stroke. The result feels like my legs are constantly “tensed” from the calf up to a bit above my knee. It _seems_ like much less power is coming from my quads, and it also seems like I am getting more power altogether.. in a smoother motion and a lower heart rate. When my legs feel strong, I can sit down and ride with this technique through a whole ride. It’s kicked my average speed up a lot and it seems to be really helpful for getting over hills. I usually end up between 105 and 115 RPM this way, which is probably over where I should be, but it seems to work out ok.

Another performance issue I’ve been thinking about is my lung function. Since I started riding half-way seriously, respiration has been a problem. I just can’t seem to get enough air. It’s usually when climbing, and when my heart rate is up over 165. (my max observed heart rate is 176) At first, I figured that I was just out of shape. Currently, most other athletic aspects have improved markedly (resting HR 52, down from 70 something, max heart rate up to 176 from 172, weight loss, etc) but I still have trouble breathing under physical stress. Belinda suggested that I might have something called Exercise induced Asthma. I didn’t think much of it until the usual post ride coughing fit hit me after the race, and I decided to get it checked out. On my initial lung function test, I got 84% of expected capacity and 92% of expected capacity with Albuterol. This is apparently inconclusive since it’s a difference of less than 10%. Tomorrow I’m going for a stress test to hopefully get more detailed data. The down side is that I have to do the test on a treadmill. I haven’t run since I started biking a lot, and I’m afraid the old knee injuries may present. Guess we’ll see.

Finally – On being a gear nerd. I have been trying to keep my head out of gear nerddom, but it’s just in my nature. I finally broke down and bought the used Dura Ace drive train that I’d been mulling over for quite a while, despite wanting to just wait until I could order a SRAM rival setup cheaply. The order window for SRAM is here, and I have no money, so I think I’m just going to keep the DA for a while. It’s currently at the shop getting installed. The other gear lust thats been haunting me is a wheelset. Like other components on my bike, my wheels, while capable, are becoming annoying. They weigh a lot and the rear hub has developed an awful clunking noise which I expect is the cassette shaft. The shop told me it was just because the hubs are cheap, which I believe. I really don’t have the money for a wheelset, but I keep hoping something light and cheap will fall into my lap. At the moment, had I the money, I think I’d go with a set of reynolds solitude’s which are around 1500g and can be had for under $400. unfortunately, I have little free cash at all, so I’m stuck with the Alex S500/joytech junk.

In other news, I promise I’ll post some non-ridelog content soon.

ridelog – It looks like spring is finally here.

Temperatures seem to be staying in the 40’s, so I’ve been trying to get out a little more. I’ve done 3 rides in the past couple of weeks. I’m still sticking to the easy group rides, but I figured some riding before them would get me a little more exercise. Last week I did the time trial course and then came back to meet the group for a Lilly ride. It seems like doing the TT course was a great warm up – I had a lot of energy after that and my legs felt good.

I did another easy ride on the Kerber route this week, although I think it was a little quicker pace than what I’m used to. I took a few pulls, but the wind and several little hills burnt me up at that pace, and I was struggling a bit towards the end.

Last night I went out to use up the remaining daylight and see if there was a feasible place to do hill repeats in town. I think this was kind of a failure. Heading down the hill into town is generally ok – I usually only catch the red light at 9th street. Getting back to the hill is a pain though because there are about 4 stops/lights in a row. Regardless, I went up Ferry Street the first time, partially in an attempt to figure out what gearing I need to put on the fixed gear bike so I can still make it home. 52/25 is doable. anyway, I went back for another lap, and returned deeper though downtown so I could go up State Street. Traffic was a little sketchy at 9th and main and as I was hammering away from the light, my freakin rear wheel fell out! I could feel it give, and then it locked up, and I skidded sideways a bit. Fortunately, as I let off, It settled back in and I made it to the hill. I didn’t feel any stronger up the hill than the last time I’d ridden it, back when it was warm, but, I did recover from the big climb faster. By the time it leveled off, I still had some energy to stand up and go a bit.

1. my endurance/aerobic capacity still sucks. I’m going to try and figure out how to increase this, probably just using a higher heart rate for my steady state on the trainer.
2. I really can’t maintain much of a tempo. I struggled to keep around 19mph for 20 miles. I need to figure out how to bring this up. It’s probably related to the aforementioned endurance issues. Must train harder.
3. Remember to tighten the skewers! I didn’t eat it this time, but my bike got roughed up a bit. The cassette took a bite out of one of the chainstays and I think I might have bent the derailleur a bit.
4. I really need to work on a sprinting cadence. I’ve been getting increasingly more comfortable on the road bike, and find that especially in town, I’m riding it like a BMX bike; standing up and hammering big gears from a stop. This is all fine and good, and I’m sure I’m putting down a lot of power this way, but the power is chunky, and it’s not all getting to the ground because on my upstrokes, I’m pulling the back wheel off the ground. I think the answer here might be doing slower cadences in big gear on the trainer, but I’m not sure.

ride log – first group ride of 2010

It seems that we’re in a bit of a warm spell. A few people from the cycling club have started doing group rides again. Yesterday I decided to get in on one as the weather was in the 30’s. I was concerned that I would get dropped a lot since I haven’t really ridden outside since early in December, and the bulk of my training has been stationary bike and weights. In preparation, I carbo-loaded at lunch with chicken parm and breadsticks. I wasn’t real sure what to wear, and ended up with bibs, compression shirt, jersey, tights, regular socks, wool sock, shoe covers and gloves. I had intended to take a jacket, but forgot it at home. I was a little cold at first, but once we got going I was fine, except for my thumbs which got REALLY cold, I assume from having circulation cut off in the regular “on the hoods” position. I adjusted, and they eventually evened out. Later in the ride, my big toes got cold, but my feet are always problematic.

As far as my condition, I seemed to do better than expected. It was an easy ride, but I managed to keep up with the pack everywhere but Kerber, and even then, I stayed with them till the last 10-20 yards. My stationary bike work payed off, but not how I expected. I couldn’t spin as fast as I do in the gym, since the resistance is a lot more variable, but I seem to be recovering on HR a lot faster than I used to. Also, I wasn’t “feeling it” at my upper HR limit as much as I used to. When we finished, I wasn’t really winded and felt like I still had a lot in me. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of eating for the ride or being in better shape.

Time trial outcome and first solo ride of any significant distance.

There was only one week between the penultimate and final time trial, and I was still feeling kind of beat up, so I took it really easy and didn’t do much exercise between the two. I also had a pizza pig-out the day of the last TT since I usually seem to be in a shortage of energy. The ride went a little better than the previous one. No major discomforts, and I still had enough left to work up a reasonable sprint at the end. I was still having problems with my right heel kicking out for whatever reason. I also was kind of feeling that I wasn’t getting as much power out of my stroke as I should have been. I don’t know if my seat is too low, my cranks are too short (172.5mm) or if I just need to get used to it – I realize that my BMX riding has made me much more of a masher than a spinner. My time was 0:32:43, up from 0:33:02. Not an awesome improvement, but not bad. FWIW, my initial time was 0:37:46. In reflecting on the TT experience, I can understand why I made such a big improvement up-front – I didn’t know what to expect. As a result, I went full out the first time, not realizing there was a big hill in the middle. I almost passed out the first time I went up that hill, but I think that level of exertion led to marked fitness development. In later weeks I attempted to ration my energy and had an easier time making it up the hill. Had I used the same level of exertion and went as far past my comfort level each successive time as I did the first time, I think I would have continued to make big progress.

Saturday I went on my first solo ride longer than 10 miles in quite a while. I opted for the Long Lilly Route since it’s the one that I’m most familiar with, although I’ve only done it 2 or 3 times. The first thing I’ll note is that iMapMyRide seems to be losing it’s tracking a lot lately. As you can see from the photos, my route on the left has all the corners cut off and skipped about 2 miles of my ride from campus, back home. You can compare most of the route to the map on the right of what it actually is. The end result is a reading of 19.8 something miles for a 25+ mile ride. I had to exit iMapMyRide several times to check my

directions, but it appeared to restart acceptably. I don’t know if that was a contributing factor or not. I ordered a bicio (formerly ibikemount.com) “GoRide” iPhone holder in hopes that being able to see what the phone is doing will be helpful.

Weather was a factor on this ride. I think it was around 50 degrees when I started a little before 7p, and it started to get darker and colder about halfway through. I wore compression tights and long sleeve shirt with a short sleeve jersey and my regular bike shorts on the outer. Skull cap, and odyssey gloves were also worn. When I left the house my arms were pretty cold, but became livable (yet still cold) once I warmed up. My face was really cold too, but it also warmed up. My hands as usual were pretty cold the whole way, with some numbness at around 60% of the way through. Mostly thumbs. My feet also were really cold, and probably the most uncomfortable thing the whole ride. I think I will start wearing foot warmers anytime it’s under 50 and past noon. Not sure yet about gloves. I got some snowboarding type gloves at TJ Maxx, but I kind of feel like they are too nice to sweat in. I may take them back and order some Pearl Izumi stuff from
performancebike.com. The compression tights worked really well, however my shorts didn’t seem to fit right over them, so my chamois was totally in the wrong place. As a final clothing note, this was the trial run of my new

glasses, which were $3.40 at home depot. They fit my fat head pretty well, and my only complaint is that they had a slight glare issue, but I think I can deal with it at that price until I can shell out for something nicer from http://www.rudyproject.com/ .

Speaking of glasses, lack of daylight became an issue and I had to take the glasses off even though they aren’t dark at all. For whatever reason, I totally neglected the fact that I might run out of light. I was also riding out in the country where there weren’t any street lights. I couldn’t see my computer or heart monitor, though I could still see the road acceptably. I should probably get a headlight at some point. I’m not sure if I’d rather have one that mounts to the bike, or one that goes on my helmet. (so I could see my instruments)

Another first, I was chased by a dog.. twice! I ordinarily wouldn’t think much of it, but I’d recently read this post on bikeforums about a guy who had a dog take a chunk out of his calf and the ensuing dealing with the owners shady insurance, which put a little of the fear of dog into me. The first one was early into the ride in a wooded, but still residential area. The dog appeared out of the trees. I shouted at it to try and scare it off, which had no effect. I sprinted and he eventually fell back and gave up. The second one was in the middle of a bunch of cornfields. I saw him rolling around in a ditch and hoped he would ignore me, but he gave chase. I again yelled, which again did nothing. I grabbed my water bottle, as I’ve been told that spraying them can be deterring. I was feeling like I had the speed advantage and despite this one having more stamina than the first, I slowly pulled away. I think I’m going to get some kind of dog repellent spray and keep it velcro-ed to the bike.

I am still noticing the foot issue, and this time I was also noticing some sit bone pain on the same side that seemed to be linked to the weird foot position. Need to try some pedals with less float. Despite that, altogether it was a good ride. I like riding in a group because it can make me push my limits and it’s nice to have someone to talk to, but riding alone is good too because I can keep my own pace, and the quiet is kind of nice. The scenery of cornfields and tree-rows in the distance framed by orange and purple sunset skies is really beautiful. This route also had several miles of straight, flat road that I really enjoyed. I was able to keep up a 19-20 pace for a long time with a good, non-painful effort and work on my cadence.

odometer is currently at 215.1.

Time trials – slowed progress

Wednesday was time trials again, and I opted to forfeit my points so I could ride the road bike. I expected that the bike change as well as actually having a computer would gain me significant time, and it really didn’t. I only had a 40 second improvement over the last TT.

I’m guessing that the reason for the smaller than expected improvement was mostly because I was still not recovered from the longer Saturday ride. I have noticed that pushing my limits on distance or speed usually take me out of commission for a while. In addition to recovery issues, my right ankle has been hurting a bit, and I’ve noticed that as a result, my right foot is taking a larger angle on the pedal. Finally, I seem to have a more difficult time breathing in the position that the road bike puts me in, especially when I’m on the drops. I suspect that that will improve with time as the muscles in my back and shoulders get better at supporting me and also as my gut gets smaller, allowing more breathing room.

In addition to the TT, I also rode to work in the morning, rode out to the TT, back home, and then downtown and back later in the evening. I figure I got about 25-30 miles for the whole day.

Lately, I’ve been wondering a bit about crank length, since both of my multi-geared bikes appear to have 170mm cranks and I’ve always run 175 or 180mm cranks on my BMX bikes. I would really love to play around with some power measurement tools, as I kind of feel that all the time spent riding BMX bikes causes my physiology to operate a little differently than people who have always ridden road or mountain bikes.