Well, I arrived in Phoenix this afternoon with the family, no small feat with a 6 and 4 year old. After eating an early dinner all of us rode to the neighborhood park so the kids could stretch their legs. The weather can't be beat: High 50's and sunny on December 31st. Tomorrow the zoo is scheduled for the AM with the kids and then McDowell Mountain on the mtb with my brother in the PM. Should be a good day. Stay tuned for pictures...
Any recommendations for road and/or mountain bike routes to try next week while I'm in Phoenix? I'll be staying near 7th Ave and E Union Hills Dr and will have 1.5 to 3 hours available for riding each day. I found the above photo of the Javelina trail in South Mountain on www.mountainbikeaz.com. Looks like fun...
Some of you will recall my post regarding the Speedplay Zero pedals I won in the Cyclingnews Fantasy Vuelta game that I quickly sold on eBay. Well, today I received the other half of my prize, a pair of Maxxis Courchevel tires. Unlike the pedals, I am planning to use these next year for racing. I've never ridden Maxxis tires so it will be fun to try something new. In 2005 I used Michelin Pro Race tires and in 2006 I used Continental GP4000's. In 2007 I'll use a mix of tires on the following wheels: _______________________
Notes: This will be my primary wheelset for Hell of the North and secondary wheels for all other races. Last year I raced Bontrager X-Lite Aeros with Michelin Carbon tires at Hell of the North and had zero issues. A tough, durable pair of wheels that I won't worry about tossing in the bed of a race support pickup. I'll use either an SRAM or Ultegra 11-23 cassette. _______________________
I should also mention that I had to miss work today due to my falling prey to a 24 hour intestinal bug that has been making the round of my immediate and extended family. I was one of the lucky ones and escaped with only a queasy stomach, chills and aches. My food intake started off slow this morning with some apple juice followed by a banana. A few hours later I consumed a small bowl of plain yogurt with homemade granola. After a few more glasses of apple juice and another banana I decided to eat a normal dinner with the family. So far all is well and I'm hopeful I'll be back at it tomorrow morning. My wife and daughter have already done their time with the bug so my son is the only remaining potential victim. Since we're scheduled to leave later this week for Phoenix my fingers are crossed that he'll stay healthy!
In addition to spending some time on the trainer the past two days I also ventured outside on the mountain bike. There is a canal a few blocks from our house with a dirt service road running alongside. Currently it's covered with 3-4 inches of snow which made for interesting riding. Somebody had driven a 4-wheeler on the road and the resulting packed snow made for good riding as long as I kept both wheels inside the tracks. The thing is, I had some issues holding the line so was constantly weaving around as one, or both, wheels slipped in and out of the rut. There was one section of the road that had seen heavy motorized and foot traffic so all of the snow was packed. This constant surface gave me enough confidence to pick up the speed a little which was fun. Other than that one section, however, I kept the gear pretty low so when I inevitably crossed into the deeper, wetter sections I was able to keep the pedals turning. A few times I thought I was going to stall out and fall over as my wheels slipped on uneven sections but throughout the ride I was able to keep it upright. Total ride time each day was only 35 minutes but it was fun to be outside doing something I don't normally do.
In terms of the trainer, I did another set of 3 minute building intervals this morning. This time my average heart rate looked like this: 154, 167, 182, 183 and 165 bpm. The numbers look good on the way up but coming back down it's clear that I'm having trouble recovering from the previous efforts. In another 1-2 weeks I'm going to add another set, though I'll probably do 10 minutes of recovery after completing the first set. Yeah, that's a bit weak I know, especially compared to the original recommendation to complete 3 sets in succession, but with time I should get there...
I received the following in response to my Feeling the force entry earlier this week. I thought it was too good to remain hidden in the Comments so I'm reposting it here:
I'm not a coach nor an exceptional rider, but I like riding indoors, so here's my advice.
The key to surviving trainer time is to keep it structured, e.g. 20 min warm-up (includes 1 min jumps), then 3 min medium intensity, then 3 min harder intensity, 3 min hardest, and back to medium, etc.. Do 3 times without resting, then rest 12 min and that's 1hr. Now you're ready to repeat it again, that's 1.5 hrs. I even structure my 10 min warm-down by riding at 115 RPM's and lowering RPM's by 5 every minute down to 70 and I'm done.
I couldn't ride steady indoors just to put in miles, that's inhumane. Yesterday I did 1.75 hr including 1hr tempo ride. This time the slight burn and visualizations made it interesting.
Concentrate on riding and visualizations, not on music or television. Always approach the trainer with a plan in mind. "What do I want to accomplish today? A tempo ride? Intervals? A fitness test? One legged?" Know what will make you be satisfied with your ride and do it.
I did one set of the building 3 minute intervals (5x3) during this morning's trainer session and ended up with the following average heart rates: 145, 160, 174, 175, 161. I don't have cadence on my computer but I'm guessing the reason #4 was harder than #3, even though the gear was smaller, is because I rode it at a higher cadence than I did for #2. Either that or my recovery sucks right now...
...and no, I'm not talking about Christmas. For those of you with Flexible Spending Accounts, also known as a Section 125 or Cafeteria plan, this is the time of year when you try and find ways to spend any remaining money before the end of the year. Any money not spent is lost as it doesn't roll over from one year to the next. So today I visited the dentist and optometrist (to renew my contact lens prescription so I can buy more) and tomorrow I see Dr. Albano, a Sports Medicine doctor I was referred to by Dr. Testa, to get an ultrasound of my right knee. Good times. What's cool about this account is that all contributions are pre-tax and the annual amount is available starting January 1. Also, pretty much everything is fair game for reimbursement assuming it's an OTC drug or prescribed by a doctor. I'm considering asking either Dr. Testa or Dr. Albano to hook me up with a prescription for the 2007 Specialized S-Works road shoe. Given that I currently require a shim to correctly align my right knee, I figure that using a pair of shoes that has the shim incorporated into the sole would be even better. We'll see what the doctors think about my plan...
As far as riding is concerned it's all trainer for me. However, I'll be heading south like Fox soon enough to soak up some of that Arizona sun. I've had enough of winter.
Thanks to a bit of phone consulting courtesy of Fox, I was able to install my new SRAM Force brake calipers this evening without too much trouble. They look sweet on the bike and are significantly lighter than the 105 calipers they replaced. My Rival compact crankset should arrive either Wednesday or Thursday and, based on what I read on the Park Tool website, the installation doesn't look too difficult. Speaking of difficult, I had some issues with my front derailleur shifting to the big ring yesterday (yeah, I must admit to spending some time in the little ring...) and my intial attempt to fix the problem did nothing except make it worse (adjusting the height and rotational angle without releasing the tension on the inner wire is darn near impossible). However, after consulting the Park Tool website, and after about 45 minutes of trial & error, I was able to dial it in to the point where it now shifts better than ever.
As far as riding goes, I did 40 minutes on the trainer this morning with one good 20 minute effort at 162 average bpm. Pretty weak I know... I still haven't figured out how some of you can throw down 2-3 hours on the trainer. That is just plain crazy.
I stopped by Contender this afternoon to buy some cable cutters and checked out Ryan's snow beast. All I can say is those wheels are HUGE. Reed was talking about snow skating which sounded fun. Maybe I need to try a bit harder to find a reason to like snow. Anybody know if you can rent that stuff? Might be worth a try...
Yesterday was a record tying day for December in Utah with a high near 60. Unfortunately I found myself at work during the best part of the day and only managed 45 minutes outdoors in the late afternoon. While the wind had picked up and the temperature was falling as a cold front moved in from the north, it was still nice to be outside. I rode out to Bluffdale on 1300 W then jumped on Redwood at 14400 S and headed south to 15000 S where I turned west. I rode that up and then dropped down to 14000 S and home on 1300 W. A short 13 miles but still fun.
This morning I managed 60 minutes on the trainer while watching Pirates II with the kids. Cami, Alder and I went to 'A Christmas Carol' at the Hale Center Theatre in the afternoon. Dickens is a favorite of mine and the performance did not disappoint. After picking Kate up from Great Grandma's we enjoyed an early dinner at the Market Street Broiler. For those with children, they have a fantastic kids menu that includes a drink, small soup or salad, entree and ice cream sandwich for $4.99. A killer deal considering we're talking real, high quality, freshly prepared food instead of the typical preservative laden crap you find on the kids menu of most restaurants.
We're forecast to receive more snow tonight/tomorrow morning followed by 4-5 days of cold and dry weather. However, it's looking like it will warm up to at least 40 for the weekend so keep your fingers crossed that the snow/rain stays away! I picked up some winter socks today (the 20% Contender club discount on socks in December almost makes Assos affordable!) and need to take them out for a ride.
Next week I hope to get my Force brakes & Rival crankset installed with the help of Sly. I'm looking forward to trying the compact out on the climbs in Fountain Hills when I'm down south next month.
Big congratulations are in order to the Utah cross racers who rode strongly at nationals this weekend. For details, check out the Doctor's report here.
I have decided to purchase a compact crank (50x34) which, when paired with my SRAM 11-26 cassette, should get my old knees up and down these Utah mountains without too much trouble. The challenge, as with all cycling related purchases, is determining what exactly to buy. Right now this is what I have on my list of possibilities (in no particular order):
SRAM Force SRAM Rival Shimano R700 Campagnolo Chorus CT ('06 or '07) Campagnolo Centaur CT ('06 or '07)
Since I currently have an Ultegra 6600 crank I wouldn't need to purchase a BB if I went with the Shimano compact. My drivetrain is SRAM Rival so either of the SRAM cranks make sense with the Rival costing 1/2 of the Force at the expense of an additional 50-60 grams. Aesthetically speaking I love Campy. My wrenching skills are quite limited so ideally I would purchase the crank from a local shop, with Contender being my preference.
For those of you who read my first post, you will have heard of my friend Nathan, whom I began riding bikes with at the age of 14 in Boise, ID. Nathan is a fast rider, much quicker than I am on the bike, especially when the road starts climbing. Currently a Cat 4 who raced for Vanderbilt's Collegiate A team this year while finishing up his PhD, he is now teaching undergrads in Pennsylvania. Given that a professor's life is one of leisure and abundant free time, Nathan has started blogging. Having enlisted the services of a respected cycling coach and purchased a wheelset built around a Powertap SL rear hub, his entries for the 2007 season should be both informative and entertaining. At least that is my hope... I have added a link over on the right, though for those reading this entry you can check it out here.
While I'm talking about things that make me sick I should quickly note that I have had it with the recent flurry of doping related stories. I don't know about you, but in my opinion the sport is killing itself. I mean, what other sport does so much to broadcast its dirty laundry to the world?! Recently, nothing pisses me off more than reading about yet another race organizer who is taking a stand on what rider or team can or can't participate in their race. And the notion that a rider is guilty unless they can prove their innocence, regardless of how weak the evidence against them, is plain crazy. Personally I don't know if Basso doped or not but given that he has been cleared by his federation on what grounds can he or Discovery be excluded from racing? How the race organizers get off thinking they can judge a rider's guilt or innocence is beyond me. And then you have jokers like Patrick Lefévère who in my eyes is a perfect example of the ultimate cycling hypocrite. On top of all that, you also have guys like Bart and Sager (among others) getting totally screwed by USADA. It's completely insane and out of control.
The LA Times recently ran a story on doping in sports. Here is Part I and Part II for your reading pleasure. If you don't have time to read the entire article you can find highlights here.
Oh, and one more thing, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to take performance enhancing drugs, read this.
Yeah, so like Bart I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat and head congestion. It's only been 3 weeks since my last cold so it really sucks. However, if you noticed the Christmas card posted below you should understand why. Kids are great and one thing they are really good at is bringing home germs! Seriously, every time one of them gets sick you can bet I'll follow within a week. I can't wait for 2007 when both of them will be in school - nothing like double the germs coming home... The winter is by far the most difficult time of year. I don't recall any of us getting sick from April to October this year which is a solid 7 months. Too bad we can't keep it rolling through the colder months. Guess that's another reason to move south one of these years.
So, as you might have guessed, I am laying low this week as far as the bike is concerned. Starting tomorrow I'll do some easy spins on the trainer to loosen up the legs for a good session of stretching each day. If any of you know any secrets for staying healthy this time of year please pass them on. I need all the help I can get!
Did a solid 2.5 hours today with Adam and Doug around South Mountain. There was a stiff wind blowing from the south which made the ride out tougher than usual. My legs felt good on the flats and short hills but when we started the climb to Suncrest (from the south) I had nothing. Adam was giving it some gas from the beginning and beat us up by a fair margin. It's funny how quickly I lose what little ability I do have to climb. I just tried to keep it steady and ended up putting in a solid effort for this time of year, averaging 175 bpm for the climb. In fact, with the wind and climb, my average heart rate for the entire ride was in the mid 160's. My least favorite part of the ride was descending from Suncrest to Draper. I get a bit freaked out coming down with my Ksyriums when the wind is gusting. However, one benefit of the wind is that the inversion is finally over and the air is clear. It's nice to be able to see the mountains from my house again.
After the ride I loaded up the family and headed downtown to hang out. We ate a tasty dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and then walked to Temple Square to see the lights. We rode TRAX from the Courthouse to the Gateway which the kids loved. On the way home we jumped on the University line instead of the Sandy line so had to walk from the Library to our car parked on Main St. In total we probably walked close to 90 minutes and my legs are now extremely tired!
So this week has been pretty boring on the training front with more tempo work on the trainer. However, that should soon change as I'm planning to bring the bike to work tomorrow and do a lunch ride. Saturday also looks good for 2-3 hours in the great outdoors. Reading the blogs of the local guys I'm amazed at how much riding people do in the winter, both inside and outside. Me, I probably average 3-5 hours a week during the cold months with at least 50% of that coming from my Saturday ride. Holidays are the only chance I really have to get in some decent hours this time of year. For example, the week of Thanksgiving I did 9.5 hours on the bike. Of course, my highest volume week in 2006 was only 12 hours...
With the purchase of my new mountain bike shoes I've been itching to ride the dirt and need to plan a quick trip to St. George. I plan to bring it to Phoenix in January but it would be nice to get out once before that to remind myself how to ride offroad.
Stage 17 of the 2007 Giro looks insane. Nothing like a 22% grade to finish off the day. How about a stretch of 3.5 miles at an average of nearly 15%? That is crazy. Check it out:
On Saturday the family and I did a little Christmas shopping before attending Frosty the Snowman at the Children's Theatre of Salt Lake. The show wasn't bad but the shopping was better as I picked up a pair of '07 Specialized S-Works Mountain shoes at Bingham's in SLC. So far the only riding I've done with them has been circles in my garage while I adjusted the cleats but man, I can't believe how good they feel. If they weren't so darn expensive I'd pick up a pair for the road too. Anybody know how I can save a few bucks? If so please let me know. My brother dusted off his old mountain bike this weekend so I may need to follow RB's example and leave the road bike at home when we visit him in Phoenix next month.
Today was a rest day which meant I was spared from spending more time on the trainer. However, looking at tomorrow's forecast I should be back at it in the morning. To all you crazy souls who will be racing cross on Saturday - GOOD LUCK! It's going to be cold!
PS - If you need a new bike and haven't bought T-Bird's yet you're crazy. Buy it before it's gone. That deal ain't going to last.