Sunday, November 22, 2009

Road Trip!

Well, after a lot of research, and soul searching, I found a solution to my broken wheel. I am getting a pair of 2010 Mavic Aksium (axiom) wheels from Cambria, and will be driving up to Santa Rosa to pick them up as I just can't see paying $50 shipping for $250 wheels. They reassured me the price in the store for the pair of wheels will be $220 and tax, so it's worth the drive.

Mavic has taken a lot of weight out of these wheels over the last 2 years - at least 200 grams - there are no bendy J-hook spokes, and those straight spokes are bladed aero spokes. These entry level Mavic wheels are now within 25 grams of the much more expensive Ksyrium Equipe, so Mavic is responding to the world-wide recession by offering riders a very good wheel at a great price.

I have some concerns about durability due to my "185 lb" weight (that's my story and I sitting on it), but online reviews report these wheels to be pretty bomb-proof. If I were hard on my gear I  wouldn't risk it, but I'm not, so this will be a pretty big upgrade from the $40 Alex wheels the bike came with. (it seems like the more decals, the cheaper the wheel)

In the meantime I intend to ride my mtn bike, which is long overdue for a good outing. Unfortunately, I sprained my left ankle, which, in conjunction with a (nicely healing) right calf tear has me picking my day rather carefully.

I missed a great mud-fest on Friday out at Lake Natoma led by my friend Marsh Wildman, but that left ankle I almost ripped off my leg sticking the nose of my snowboard at ~ 35mph 2 yrs ago, and with the weather adding to the misery index, it really hurt on Friday.

Speaking of the calf, it seems to be getting stronger still, and the ankle sprain has helped in that I no longer am favoring it. I now stand on my tip toes to get things like canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving down from the top shelf in the kitchen. I'd be lying though if I said I wasn't getting frustrated by the lack of riding. I think it's time to head to the gym and get some core in. Cheers!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dead Weels A'rollin

I went out the door for a quick ride Thursday, noticing at the last moment how little time I had left before sundown. Intending to head off to Beal's Point, my bike kind of went right instead of left at the Sunrise 'Y' , so I ended up heading downstream to William Pond Park. It was a nice day with a 5-7 mph headwind and I picked up a trailer somewhere around Hagen Park.

I felt slow and sluggish, so when he passed me I let him go a bit and then realized he'd pretty much spent himself getting around me, so I bridged up and rode his wheel for awhile. We ended up riding up over the WBP bridge side by side carrying on a nice conversation.

I was feeling a lot better by then - all the rust was falling off and I had some snap in my legs - so I decided to head downstream to CSUS. Doug bailed about a mile down from WBP, but I put in a plug for HammerinWheels and hope to see him again on a club ride.

I picked up the pace, hunkered down in the aeorbars, and tried hard to slice through the the wind while keeping the sweat from dripping off the tip of my helmet and spattering all over my glasses. I was blowing hard as I rode up the long ramp to the Guy West Bridge at CSUS. Amazing how much of a lather I can work up in 60 degree weather at 20 mph.

Eager to trade in the headwind for a tailwind, I hit the Garmin's lap button and pushed off 5 minutes later. I set a pretty solid 22-23mph pace and passed a half-dozen riders along the way. As usual, I got no challenges along this section, so I had to focus on my Garmin and kept pushing myself till my HR monitor would alarm and then back off after a minute or two.

After passing a fast commuter with rear panniers filled, I put on a sprint to keep him off my wheel. No point pulling the kitchen sink. Just as my HR alarm settled back down I ran up onto the back of the mythical Park Ranger SUV (it exists, really, I swear!) doing a very proper 15 mph - the legal speed limit on the ARPT.

If anybody actually observed that speed limit the bike trail wouldn't be much use to anyone, but there he was, stuck in my face anyway. I should have peeled off the trail for surface streets at the edge of the WBP park, or at least hit the lap button, but as it was I ended up crawling along behind him and ruined my average.

Once home I found I had spent about 50% of the ride in Zone 5 - low Zone 5, fortunately. I often ride the hardest going downhill or with the wind at my back. Speed begets speed.

Last night I was cleaning and prepping my bike for a ride tomorrow from Auburn to Foresthill - a nice climbing route - and decided to finally Scotchbrite my rear wheel's braking surface clean to get the undulation out of the rear brake. I was shocked to discover a spoke breaking out through the rim, splitting it in the process.

This is not a welcome expense, with winter clothes and Christmas to budget for, but at least I didn't end up sprawled all over the road coming down a 10% grade at 50 mph. Besides, I have a zero-guilt reason now to finally put some good wheels on the bike. They have always been the weak link on my Roubaix.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beal's Boogie

I've been burning the candle at both ends all week, and yesterday it caught up with me. I slept most of the day, woke up for a few hours and went to bed early, hoping to wake up refreshed today. It was cold, so I baked a half-dozen potatoes and ate one before heading off to bed for the night. Good carbs for making liver glycogen.

I blew off a great club ride, as it was clear I needed to sleep in today, and because the club ride wasn't very tough. At 29 miles and 1,200 ft of climbing, it was almost flat. I decided to sleep in, wait till it warmed up a bit and just head up to Beal's Pt at Lake Folsom this afternoon.

It's been awhile since I've been up there, and especially, using my 'standard' route, so I was surprised I was able to do the ride at a good pace. It took me 1:53 minutes to do the 32 miles and ~ 2,400 ft of climbing. I put on a short sleeve jersey, wind vest, and balaclava at Beals for the fast descent - in addition to leg warmers I wore for the entire trip. It's getting cold out there again.

I loved the dense air, and could tell it in my recovery time after pushing hard into Zone 5, but it will make for cold mornings. It's supposed to get down to 37 degrees here tonight.

The calf rehab continues to go well, although it was very close to cramping up on me climbing up the Hazel Ave corkscrew up onto the bridge. It's about a 30% grade, so standing and hammering it is about the only option. Another 10 ft and I would have been in trouble. I nursed the calf home though, and hope it will respond well to the exercise as it has been doing right along.

All in all it was a great ride and great weather for it. I even got a little racing in coming down from Beal's and all the way back to the turn-off for Main St after Negro Bar. He dropped me hard on that 6% hill, as I anticipated, but I reeled him in again after a mile or so. Unfortunately I had to kill most of my speed to dodge some peds at Negro Bar, so I was chasing him down again when he turned off the trail.

Good times!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1st Road Ride

I met up with 20 or so riders from my HammerinWheels group for a 31 mile road ride on Halloween morning, and the weather was just perfect for the 9:00 AM start and noon-ish finish. I got there a little early and had time to catch up with a few of the riders I hadn't seen in awhile.

FF&FF crew getting their Halloween on!

While we were forming up, and listening to our ride leader give instructions, my other bike group, Feisty Fun & Frisky Fitness showed up with a small group of fast riders to do a ride of their own. Later, at the end of the ride our mtb HammerinWheels group showed up with 3 dozen riders for a nice mtb ride along Folsom Lake at Granite Bay. It really was just the perfect day for a bicycle ride!

Lourdes giving instructions - back from the chiropractor and bike shop after her fall on Wednesday

The first part of the ride was fairly flat, and ended with a long stay at a coffee shop and nursery where, along with our 23 bikes, there were bikes from 3-4 other groups. I looked around the parking lot and realized there were $100k in bikes gracing the parking lot. The sun was out in force as we filled the back patio while munching on pastries and sipping excellent coffee.

I was out front watching the bikes with a few others of our group, when a couple came out with a very friendly dog. I just couldn't help myself, so I took a knee (the calf was really burning after that) and was rewarded by a few friendly licks. I had a great chat with the owners while Lourdes snapped this pic, and I remembered how much I missed my Sheltie dogs.

Puppy love

With my right leg folded under me I could feel the lump that runs across the width of my calf where I tore it, and it did complain a bit by the end, but also seemed to stretch it out nicely.

D31 Granite Bay to Indian Hill loop -REAL Slow Poke's Edition

As you can see from the ride profile below, there is a substantial three mile climb of about 7% going up Indian Hill. We stopped for a breather at Flyers gas station in Newcastle for a few minutes before climbing it, and starting out after the break my calf was hurting, so I resolved to take it easy up the climb.

That lasted until about half way up the hill, when a group of 8-10 riders passed our slower group up front. I protested that I had just been 'chicked', and hit the gas. I jumped on the back and proceeded to reel them in, one by one. Even limits have their limits!

I had tried to chase down my friend Fred on the major climb of the first leg of this ride, hadn't made much progress, and didn't make much progress on this climb until the grade flattened out towards the top. He's lost at least 35lbs this year, and I had gained about 8lbs over the 6 weeks off the bike healing up. It made for a great challenge though. I really enjoyed it.

Fred had trouble with his coffee, but he's an excellent ride leader and a good friend. Kudos on the -35lbs dude!

By this time I was at the front of the pack with 4-5 other riders and we started down the back side of Indian Hill and onto a long shallow decline on Auburn Folsom Rd - which has excellent surface and nice shoulders. Have I mentioned I go downhill like a rocket? :D I passed all but one rider just working my tuck while they pedaled away. I took great delight in passing Fred, pedaling like mad while I cruised by in a tight tuck. We jockeyed back and forth a bit on some rollers before I had to brake hard for a light.

The light changed just as I was coming to a stop, so with Fred 50 ft behind me, I spun through the gears until my Garmin said 41mph - which I later confirmed meant I was turning 135 rpms. Man, that HURT! I have been having cadence issues since returning from the calf injury, and that high rotation speed really hurt. I think it did me a lot of good though, as my cadence came a lot easier the rest of the ride home.

Tim, a big rider new to me, was out front, and I tucked in behind and coasted a good part of the way, moving off to one side or the other to slow down and keeping a clear view of the road ahead while down in the aerobars, careful not to risk a collision with his back wheel as there are no brakes on the aerobars.

The "Timinator" at Flyers, before the big climb

We had a blast, Tim out front, a rider loosely behind me (who I thought was Fred until we got back to the parking lot) blasting downhill at 21-25 mph with spikes above 30. When the road got technical I moved my hands to the drops, worked the gears, and stayed vigilant, but mostly I focused on being nice and smooth and maintaining a nice 3-5ft gap. One of the hidden advantages of aerobars is how little work you add for the guy you're drafting off of. I don't think Tim could even tell whether I was tucked in tight or out wide 5 feet back.

One of the riders asked me how long we had been waiting when the main group arrived. I think it was 21 minutes. Whatever it was I thoroughly enjoyed that last 9 miles at a blistering pace on very smooth surface. I am also very happy with my progress in rehabilitating my calf tear - I really didn't know what to expect - and was happy I not only completed the ride, but at the front of the pack.