Thursday, September 30, 2010

Didn't Get the Memo?

Did I miss the "it's bloggers' break month memo"? I feel like I woke up from a nap on a long flight and found myself all alone on the plane! :-O  Where are all of my blogger friend's blog updates?

Ok, on a personal note, I sold my car today. Whew... finally! So why do I feel like I've lost a friend, or fed my first-born to the lions to keep from being eaten myself? I need to make an emergency, sanity sustaining trip to REI.

Yes, I had 2 cars and work at home, but I don't love my old car like I did my Honda Accord Coupe - AKA road rocket. Sigh.... but....

Bike bling will get you through times of no car, better than car will get you through times of no bike bling.

Keepin on Keepin on

We've been setting a lot of heat records here the last few days, so I have felt a bit of cabin fever. Life has also been in the way, but I finished retaping my handlebars after a bunch of brake block adjustments, so sucked it up and snuck in a late ride this evening.

The sun is setting so early now - before 7:00 pm - so I was only able to get 15 miles in on a short, but fun little loop (the same one that kicked my nephew's butt last year :-O) and made it a point to push without slacking off even for a minute the entire ride. That TT taught me how important it is to train your legs and cardio to push relentlessly. It's amazing how much you can get out of a short ride if you have a plan for what you want to accomplish with it.

I forgot to mention, I had a huge epiphany riding Sunday evening. I think my beloved bike trail - the ARPT - is in the process of being deforested.  The area that is squeezed between the man-made Lake Natoma and I-50, in particular, is hammered by seasonal winds that are greatly amplified, yet an asinine culture of 'let mother nature take care of it' persists in the parkway trail environs' management.

The crux of the problem is that many old, large trees are being lost, but every attempt to grow replacement trees in small nursery areas have been burned to the ground year after year by arsonists. The only solution I can see that might work is to make use of open, but secure areas, like the forever defunct downtown rail yards, to grow trees 15-18 ft tall, and then transplant them.

Failing that, in 20-30 years the ARPT will be a savanna with only the occasional old-growth oak and cottonwood to indicate it was ever otherwise. This kind of thing was done very successfully in downtown Los Angeles in the '80s, and may well continue to this day.

On the bright side, WOW are the squirrels ever BIG and healthy this year. I saw the first ever black squirrel tonight, just after a gray with a very bushy 24" tail. Spectacular! You see whole flocks of quail, turkey, and squirrels intermixed, all chowing down on the bounty of food this year. The coyotes are looking on, biding their time, waiting for the deer to join in on the smorgasbord.

Gears are working great, and I like the new handlebar setup, but the seat is a little too high, and my seatbag is TRASHED! A huge rip along the top left-hand side is threatening to spill bike-bag guts all over the road.

I have a feeling this is going to require I bite the bullet and get a longer seat too, as the current seat's short rails don't afford an adequate purchase for most bag mounts. My seat is about gone anyway, so not entirely unwelcome. More Techie Tuesday fodder!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Techie Tuesday

Finally! My new 39T middle chainring arrived, and of course you know you're going to get the best pics on the web right here. I'm very happy with the lightening fast shifts, and the installation was familiar, if not easy. Yes, I had to pull the crank again.

The chainring nuts CAN be backed out without removing the Salsa 28T 74 BCD granny, but I couldn't get the old 38T TA Alize middle ring off over the spider. Fortunately, my crank is one of the 'exo's, FSA MegaExo to be exact, so pulling the crank only requires a 5mm hex wrench and a few minutes. The new steel chainring nuts and bolts made for a worry-free swap, although I did use an informal torque sequence when doing the initial tightening of the bolts to make sure I didn't bend either ring. 

The red background yielded pretty true colors in spite of the halogen lamp. Photoshop did the rest. This ring is darker than the outer ring, and in looking up the new 6700 crank on Shimano's site, the middle ring, I believe is this same very dark, anodized ring. The anodizing makes the metal 2-3X as hard. 

I also couldn't help but notice that this is very close to the same color as Mavic's ceramic rims. Those have a 'ceramic' coating of aluminum and titanium oxides welded onto the braking surface with a plasma torch. The very heavily profiled teeth on these rings make them very narrow, and having such a treatment, said to be as much as 30X as hard as aluminum, would be a huge benefit. Perhaps that will be an option on DuraAce rings soon.

(My first encounter with this kind of ceramic coating was doing research into the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, where their helicopter turbine engine blades were being eaten up in less than a thousand hours by dust. They began using titanium oxide coatings to solve the problem. The USMC's new SuperCobras' engines are getting the same treatment, as I believe are all of the new US military turbine engines. Scaling up the technology for this use may well explain why the cost has plummeted.)

I had some reservations about mounting the new ring, as it is a 39T, not a 38T, and 52/39 rings don't make good half-step gearing. Half step gearing is an arrangement where the gaps between gears the big ring creates are filled in by the middle ring. The Granny's role is then just to provide 3-5 gears below the lowest the middle ring makes. 53/39 makes better half-step gearing, and on Compact cranks, 48/34 and 50/36, but not 50/34.

Here are the gear charts my Excel program spit out for the various gear combos mentioned. Pay special attention to any two gears that are the same or close for the large and middle chainrings. They are duplicates, and a waste of a gear.

As you can see, the 52/39 combo has a lot of duplicates, including a disaster at 21.1 where the first gear on the middle ring is a duplicate and adds nothing. If you are pulling shallow grades, touring at altitude, or bucking variable winds with changes in road surface, you'll sorely miss the granularity that half-step gearing affords you. It's not too bad with a 12-23 out back (9-speed gearing, which is 12-25 for 10-speed gearing), but with a 12-27 or 11-28 you'd really notice the big gaps between gears.

When flying downhill your cadence will pick up a bit, and when grinding up a steep grade, your cadence will slow down some. I used a factor of 95% for the adjustments, which has my base 77 rpm maxed out at 82 on the high end and 60 on the low end. This is a recent enhancement to my gear chart system, along with dynamic titling for the cadence.

Note how close together the line of gears is for the outer and middle ring with 46/38/24 gearing, and how the 1st gear on the middle ring starts helping with big-ring granularity after only its 3rd gear. Something to look for in half-step gearing. These are the smallest gears you can mount on a 130 BCD triple, and are pretty close to standard cyclo-cross gearing if you are looking for a sweet touring setup.

I didn't modify the cadence on the remaining charts to help detect duplicate gears. I also blocked out gears that can't be reached or used due to cross-chaining. I'm running the 28T granny because the chain-drop with my 24T is pretty bad. Kik Armstrong's Chain-Minder is a good option if you have a braze-on front derailleur. (like you could braze anything onto carbon - a terrible misnomer)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rest Week Over

I ended my rest week a day short by doing an easy 20 mile ride this evening on the ARPT. I had to make a few stops to adjust things, as I mounted a new middle chainring on the crank this week, and am fighting an Easton E70 Zero seat post that keeps sliding down on me. More on the crank on Tuesday.

The ride was pretty slow and tame, but I did manage to get a decent run in riding through 'race-track alley' from Hagen Pk to WBP. I ran into Issac again at WBP Pk, and we had another great conversation. We talked till the sun got low and I headed home. Not much to tell, but I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight and expect I'll have some snap in my legs on my next outing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Techie Tuesday

I was reviewing an old post about what to wear in cooler weather, as we are getting close to that season again. This got me to thinking about an online conversation I had with a fellow member in one of my bike clubs.

She was offering advice on all-weather shells, and I realized I would roast, dehydrate, and collapse in less than an hour in her favorite shell, so started trying to devise some kind of framework within which to discuss winter clothing.

I came up with something that is rather succinct, comprised of only two factors, your BMI, and power output. To get your 'heat' number, multiply your BMI times your power output. As explained below, mine is 28x250, which equals 7,000. A 6' rider weighing 170 lbs making 250 watts has a heat index of 5,775 so they'd need 20% more protection. A 5'3" rider weighing 130lbs would have the same BMI, but making 175 watts her heat index would be 4,025, so she'd need almost double the protection. (74% more).

BMI is a pretty good estimate of "stuff that traps heat" divided by the surface area available to get rid of that heat. The only thing missing then is an estimate for how much heat you are making to be trapped. The calculator at the upper-left hand corner of my blog will calculate this for you if you provide it speed, grade and weight inputs. You can also get watts generated on your rides from the RideWithGPS metrics tab if you upload your ride data to their website.

As a reference, my BMI is 28, and I'm usually making 250-275 watts when not coasting. Yes, that means I am 'overweight' by this metric, but if you read the list of caveats, guys who spend 20 yrs in the gym lifting weights will always have a high BMI because they have more muscle at any given height, and muscle is heavier than fat. For the purposes of my framework here, that muscle retains heat, so the BMI still works quite well.

Now when you have a conversation about winter clothing you can ask someone making recommendations about their BMI (or inputs so you can calc it), how many watts they generate, and have some idea if you are going to freeze, be nice and comfortable, or swelter inside your own clothing until you cook from the inside out. Let me know how accurate this estimator is. Winter clothing is expensive enough it's worth coming up with a good estimator.

Would it surprise you to find that this same metric is useful in estimating your hydration and electrolyte requirements in summer?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Third Consecutive 100+ Mile Week

Tough getting out the door yesterday, but I ground out 32 miles for a weekly total of 104 - the third 100 mile week in a row. The first 10 miles were slow, especially into the wind, but at a HR of 125 or so, I wasn't putting out much power either.

I caught a tailwind turning around at Guy West Bridge, and by the time I made it back to William Pond Pk, the HR was up to 142 and I was starting to feel stronger. I stopped for water and rolling back onto the trail, picked up the wheel of a couple. We rode almost to Hagen Pk before he negotiated to ride solo and we took off. We averaged about 23 mph, topping out at ~ 29 just before Sunrise.

He peeled off there, while I did a little loop up to Hazel to pack on ~ 6 miles before returning and heading home via Bannister Pk. I carried the speed and power well from Sunrise to Hazel, and set a new PB for that short stretch. Stomping up the short, but very steep hill at Bannister my legs were really hurting, but I kept pushing until cresting the top. Ouch!

The fatigue seems to be piling up on me a little, so I may need a rest week soon where the mileage dips a little. Also thinking of trying riding every day so I can shorten the rides. 100 miles a week is a good goal for me, and one I'd like to stick to. I may rest up and then ride to the Rescue Fire Station this weekend. I've been wanting to do that ride for months now, so with the cool weather setting in, that would be a nice way to end a week of rest.

Neck and shoulders are sore today, as I am still trying to get the handlebars and brake blocks dialed into position. I also have a new middle ring coming for the crank this week, so more wrenching is in store. Looking forward to new handlebar tape too, but trying to get the brake position right before re-taping.

Sigh of relief, my Garmin battery seems to be just fine. I must have just left it on by accident and killed the battery before Thursday's ride. Time to start looking for a headlight. The days are getting short again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

30 Fast, 17 Naked

It's threatening to rain here this weekend, so Thursday afternoon I went out to "get some" while the sun was shining. Seemed like a plan. The Garmin booted up, acquired its satellites, and then died. Battery needed charging.

I gave it 25 minutes to suck on the charger and decided I had burned as much daylight as I could, so slipped it into its mount and went out the door. I'd been craving beef the night before, so I went to Burger King and ordered a double burger, no mayo, no cheese. With that and the flame broiling I convinced myself I'd get most of the iron, niacin and protein without too much fat or cholesterol. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :D

Whatever it was, I started pretty strong and kept gathering as I went along. Bored of Bread-N-Butter Beals, I decided to mix it up a little and turn right onto the Johnny Cash Bridge, (aka Folsom Crossing Bridge, which doesn't cross Folsom Lake, and lost the naming poll by a local newspaper 3:1 to Johnny Cash) take in the spectacular view of the Lake from the bridge, and do the progressive hill climb that follows.

I was a little surprised that I ran out of gears with the 12-23 in back while in the 38T middle ring, but sat back on my seat and pounded out the top of the climb with my glutes hammering away. Makes for a very sore butt the next day, but always good to hit the legs in a new way. The Garmin trace shows the top at 9%. Respectable.

Had a blast coming back into Old Folsom past the Folsom Prison Industries Gate at ~ 30mph cranking 85 rpms in the new big ring. Yeah! >B  Dropped down into the aerobars and hammered it all the way back through Rodeo Park before having to wait for the lights in Old Folsom.

Once back onto the bike trail I pushed hard, trying to improve on my scorching pace on my last ride. I think it was a draw, but I definitely got stronger as I went, as I had eaten half a PowerBar waiting for lights in Old Folsom. Amazing how some quality ride fuel puts the snap back into the legs.

I'd brought some powered electrolytes with me, so stopped again at the new restrooms at Sunrise, and mixed some up. Just as I was entering the bike trail again I happened onto the back of the SBHs final Thursday day-time ride of the season. After chatting a bit I sprinted and bridged up to the back of a tandem. Momma didn't raise no fools. I know a quality draft when I see one!

I just LOVE the way a tandem handles, and builds speed. Smooth as silk through the many tight turns on the ARPT, and after scrubbing off speed, builds speed like a NASCAR, taking 20-60 seconds to get up to full restrictor-plate racing speed again. Easy to draft off of, and OMG, what a draft. I was very surprised no one else bridged up with me, as I passed a group of 12-15 to get on their wheel, but no problem, more for me!

My Garmin alerted its battery was about to die, so I turned it off to make sure it remembered the trace to that point. After that I was riding completely naked. I didn't even have a speed indicator.

When we got to William Pond Park and stopped to rest, I recognized the captain as a fellow HWs member, CycleSteve and his SO. They just finished a mountain and foothills tour of ~ 250 miles, so their legs were a little tired. Sure couldn't tell it on the way there though.

Turning around we headed back with the same group, but picked up another rider. She was out front after a couple of miles, and I decided it would be more fair to go around the tandem and offer to pull my fair share of the time.

As it was, she was also a little leg tired, and after a fast 3-4 miles I'd dropped both the tandem and my tail-gunner. No worries. I bridged a gap almost a mile long, and caught the lead group just before Sunrise. That was my return fork back to Bannister, so I shouted my intentions to peel off, and returned home.

I got to the first light on Fair Oaks and flatted - lucky I didn't crash. It was getting dark, so I really had to scramble to patch it before I lost the light. Unfortunately, the patch failed again in a few miles, and this time I almost fell in front of a car when it blew. I was only 2 miles from home, but that's way too far to walk in cycling shoes, so I needed to find a solution fast.

I ended up knocking on a door to get someone to turn on their porch light, as I could see no other way to get enough light. No luck. They weren't home, but as I rolled the bike back towards the road, I noticed a nice porch light beside a garage door over a brand new concrete driveway and sidewalk. Perfect!

About 5 minutes later the owner pulled into his garage and I had my stuff spread out all over the short sidewalk from the garage to the house. I knocked on the garage door from the outside to warn him, not wanting to startle him too badly. Nevertheless, he was quite surprised. Once we got past that he was cool, and we had a nice talk while I worked.

His name's Chris, and he's from Jersey by way of San Rafael, Ca, It turns out he moved there a few months after I left, but it still made the basis for a great conversation. Will drop by in a few days with a cold beer or 6 to thank him for his forbearance.

By the time I got home it was hard dark, and pretty cool. 47 miles and about 2,500 ft. I've got 72 for the week, and so only need a 30 miler to get my 100 miles done. With luck the weather will hold tomorrow and I'll have three consecutive 100 mile weeks in the bank. Liking September this year!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beals: No Point

Scrambling to get the bike back together yesterday, I headed out the door (WITH a helmet on this time :-) to ride my Bread-N-Butter Beals ride, sans the climb. Never a good idea to push your luck too far the first time out with new equipment. About 3 miles into the ride there was a terrible clatter and the front derailleur slipped down about a half inch into the big ring.

I pulled off Fair Oaks before I got run over by a bus and rush-hour traffic to futz with it for 15 minutes, happy the derailleur cage wasn't twisted and mangled. I got a few strange looks riding back and forth on a stub-street about a half-block long, but it was the perfect setup for tweaking the gearing, so a lucky break there.

I started slow, but caught the wheel of a couple riding 2-up, and used them for pace until I got my legs under me. When I got to the Bicycles Plus/Karens Bakery parking lot I decided to turn around and head back the same way, instead of transitioning over the bridge and having to ride the brakes through the switchbacks on the far side of the river.

I am starting to notice that on the ARPT it matters which way you ride certain segments, so I will be riding the east side up and west side back from now on, as I had a blast coming back on the east side, and ROCKED the hills and hairpin turns. I decided to dub this East-Side Story on RideWithGps and look forward to a mechanical-free ride soon. 25 miles and 1,670 ft from Garmin Training Center stats.

Planning my ride for tomorrow, as SBHs is starting too late to finish before dark and get in any kind of serious miles. Will head up the east side of Lake Natoma, up the bottom Beals climb, then turn right to cross the Johnny Cash Bridge and the nice long climb that follows before returning again on the east side of the lake via Rodeo Pk. Should be 35 miles, or 45 if I return via WBP.

Did a little research this afternoon, and my new outer chainring was supposed to be silver, not gray. Just called AeBike and they are sending out a gray middle 39T ring express mail for half the normal shipping, so at least 2 of the rings will match. Not usually a big consideration on front chainrings, but it's never a good idea to run old gears with new chain. I also think the 38T might be just enough smaller that it is clipping the pins on the outer ring when cross-chaining down on the smallest gears in back.

Tired today, but in general, I am getting toughened in to the longer 100 mile weeks. Very happy about that. Hope to finish this season strong, as rain is forecast for the weekend, and it won't be long before seasonal rains will threaten the fun brigade.

Techie Tuesday

Aesthetic, but not much to look at from this side - except the crank arm pin at the top that tells you how to align the 5 holes, and keeps the chain from getting jammed between the crank arm and outer ring.

You can also use this pin to get a feel for where in the pedal stroke the shifts are planned. The first shift-pin is 5 teeth back from the crank arm pin. Double cranks have their 1st pin 7-12 pins back. Note too the chainring bolt holes are counter-sunk so the bolts can directly bear torque forces.

Color is gray, despite my halogen lamp's insistence it's bronze.
Flip it over, and a world of marvels awaits you as you try to figure out how many ways all of the pins and ramps and ramp-lettes, will bend your chain to give you instant shifts. However it works, it works well!

More pins and ramps than you can shake a chain at!

It's a triple outer, and clearly stamped 52-39-30. This defines the angles the pins and ramps are designed for
I'm running 52/38/28 for now, but it looks like that is not different enough to create a problem. In fact, the 38T seems to drop the chain off onto the 28T in a way that the chain fits onto it's teeth without having to slip back to sync up.

Extensive machining and pinning make for instant shifts
An edge view showing more relief on the pins and ramps
Torx-30 aluminum FSA nut and bolt - left. Steel allen nut and bolt - right.
I broke one of the FSA bolts, tightening it without even holding a wrench on the nut, and it's clear why. The FSA nut has to devote almost half of the threaded area of a traditional nut to an engagement area for the Torx-30 driver. The FSA bolt is thus much shorter. The traditional system has the bolt go all the way through to the end of the nut, so a lot more threads can be used to tighten down the chainrings.

Add to that the inherent weakness of aluminum and it's understandable why one of the bolts broke in half. I felt lucky there was enough Torx engagement left to be able to get the broken piece out of the nut. The replacement bolts were $2 at Performance Bike Shop.

3 chainrings, 3 colors. Thank you Shi-follow marketing mavens
To get the nuts out, you have to pull the crank off, unbolt the 74BCD granny, and then turn the screws out of the bolts. Tedious, as the chain is always dirty and it has to go somewhere while you're working on the crank and chainrings.
52T from Japan, 38T from France, 28T from USA. I expect to be invited to the UN any day now!
A well-behaved mutt!
I will probably replace the TA Alize middle ring with a Shimano 6603 39T soon. The 28T is a Salsa I've been meaning to put on for 6-8 months, and this seemed like a good time. It is BEEFY! A good thing in a granny, because at 28T there aren't many teeth pulling when you are stomping and torquing up a hill, and that means they wear out fast and start exhibiting chain suck.

PS: I'd like to dedicate this post to my father, one of the best mechanics who ever held a wrench. Thanks for all you taught me. Miss you pop. Wish you were here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sticking To It

This week's 100 mile goal was met with the inclusion of my first TT. I think I can improve on my performance in the TT, but I exceeded my goal of 86% of max HR for 1hr, AND got in 113 and 103 miles respectively the last two weeks, so liking my new trendline.

More tomorrow on Techie Tuesday, but getting in the required milage yesterday to meet my goal required some make-shift repairs, but again, I met the challenges and got it done.

I'm feeling some real joy, being able to execute again after some serious challenges, and it's due to some very welcome cheer-leading and a new resolve on my part to get up, get moving, and get it done. Words to live by.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting it Done

Chili doesn't exactly pack the liver with glycogen! Duh!  As promised I attempted the Coach's Challenge last evening, and exceeded the HR goal and time. The 100+ cadence, not so much, as expected.

I was going to load up on carbs Wednesday night by making whole wheat spaghetti, but my neighbor called and invited me to dinner. His Chinese wife is a great cook, so I was expecting lots of fried rice and light soups, but instead was served chili and cornbread. Excellent chili, but so much for the carb-rich dinner.

About 2 hours before heading out the door for Gold Country Plaza to meet up with the SBHs, I had a big bowl of raisin bran - usually a great source of slow, glycogen building carbs. I was out of fat free milk though, so substituted whole milk. BIG mistake. Also decided since it was cool I'd make my Gatorade a little strong, but when I went to wash down half a PowerBar just before the ride, my body really wanted water, not more fuel. My stomach immediately protested.

The SBH ride turned out to be a beginner ride, so after trying to stay with a small group of fast riders for a mile or two, I realized I was going to have to ride solo. In retrospect, I think that is the only way to ride a TT. The pacing gets too complicated otherwise.

Except for one section where I took a couple of long pulls off the waterbottle, pacing on the ARPT was not an issue. I was having trouble seeing my HR on the Garmin though, as my dropping HR blurred my vision, especially in low, flat light with sunglasses on. I was able to compensate by finding a gear and cadence that insured 146-150 BPM and then focused on nailing the cadence.

146 avg HR. Had to include a little warm-up at the start, but still got the 'W'
WBP came up really fast, but by CSUS I was struggling with cramping, and the mental effort required to stay on pace. Imagine my surprise when I found the ARPT cordoned off for repairs! :-O  Gut check time! After a moment's doubt, I went around the barrier and hoped there wouldn't be any nasty surface surprises because the light was getting really poor.

I had failed to reconfigure the fields on my Garmin, so had no lap timer going. I did remember checking the Garmin's wall clock time just as the pre-ride briefing wrapped up - 6:01. I went under the I-80 bridge, and had 7:07, and hoped that would be enough. It was almost dark, I had a long ride home ahead of me, and was getting into a high crime area, so I pulled the plug. As it turned out, I stopped a few minutes too soon, and had to include the tail end of my warm-up in the TT segment.

As you can see, I exceeded the 86% HR goal for 1 hour, which is 142.8. I cranked out 146 BPM for just over an hour, which is 88%. It was just over 20 miles back to the start, so I bailed on the ride and returned home on the shortest possible route. Even that was very difficult. I was cramping badly, cold, and tired, and it was after sunset by the time I found some water to make palatable Gatorade with.

This was a really tough challenge, and I am stoked I got it done. I hope next time will go better, with all I learned, but psyched I pushed through the pain and finished with a 'W'.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coach's Challenge

A friend was tasked with meeting this goal by her coach, and this simple challenge is turning out to be quite a good one. The challenge is to ride for 1 hr at an average HR at or above 86% of max, defined as ( 100 * (HR / 220-age)), with no stops, on a trainer (or outdoors), at a cadence of at least 100 rpms.

I have come close to the HR goal on several occasions, but would not even attempt it at the goal cadence, as mine has slowed from the mid-80s to the mid-70s since my calf tear. However, I have exceeded the goal HR for 30-40 minutes, which Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible forecasts should be at a HR of 102% of a 1hr/40km HR.

42 minutes at 92% of max HR implying 90% for 1 hr
Using these two traces, I should be able to meet the HR goal with a little cushion, but it will not be easy, as my LT is ~ 145 BPM. I often ride in the 148-152 range on 2 hr rides, but don't average that.

Obviously, speed, nor terrain nor wind conditions have much of an impact on this test, which is entirely focused on your 'engine', not it's effects. However, it is much easier to manage your body's resources on a flat, straight course or a trainer. To that end I have some advice. Listen to your body, and ride your own race.

While it's best to peg your HR right at the target rate and not change it, as that makes max use of slow-twitch muscles and minimizes fatigue, your body makes insulin on a 3-6 min cycle, so when you are sagging a bit, take it in stride. If you have some gas in the tank you can push a little harder the last km or two, and recover off the clock. I did this at the end of the first trace above, cranking out about 95% of max for the last 2km.

I am using the very cool feature of RideWithGPS that allows you to drag your mouse inside the ride profile box at the bottom and pick off any segment you want, with full stats. (except the Avg Watts is always for the entire ride)

That said, I am going to try to meet this goal by extending a ride with the SBH to one 1 hr leg from Gold Country, past Guy West Bridge, terminating somewhere along the golf course.

10 mi/30min ride at 90% implying 89% 1hr/40km possible
On the ARPT the section from Hazel down to Del Paso Blvd can usually be done without having to stop for traffic, and that should be enough to get 1 hr in at the prescribed pace for me. Let me know how you do!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Techie Tuesday

I've been monitoring my front brake wear since I put on the new brake pads last month, and detected a little scraping last night on the way home. Generally, the new pads have worn in very nicely, with an almost perfect patina on the rim now, but the scraping warranted inspection.

Note the bright area of wear/gouging in the middle

Gouging caused by tiny stones embedded at toed rear of brake pad. Remove at once if at all possible!

The other side of the wheel, and it's brake pad, were immaculate, or about as good as is possible riding outdoors.

Near perfect braking surface wear

Finally, a small thing that has made a BIG difference in my comfort. I bought this Halo Headwear bandana 2 yrs ago, but my old helmet fit so tight I could never wear it.

It has a bright yellow sweat barrier that runs the entire width of the forehead, and keeps the sweat pads on my Bell Ghisallo helmet from spilling sweat right down my nose and all over my glasses. What a huge improvement in comfort and visibility. My glasses often don't even need cleaning now after a ride. I like the flap in back that flaps around in the wind over the top of the ties too.

Rinsing it out in cold water and using it to mop the salt off my face, or just putting it back on when its nice and cold from fresh water are also great perks. Part of my standard kit now. Mine's white. Also available in red and blue.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends

 For the first time in months I got in a 100 mile week - 113 miles, and feeling really good too. I got a lot of encouragement from my friends Robin and Stephanie, and want to thank them for that. I'll need to get some dental stuff handled, and get a headlight soon, but hope to be able to keep up the miles until rains or winter sets in.

On my 19 mile recovery ride yesterday I took it easy on for the first 10 miles, averaging a little below 120 BPM, but after stopping very briefly under the Guy West Bridge (why ISN'T there a drinking fountain there?) to suck down some Gatorade, and eat part of a PowerBar, I was feeling strong.

I kept adding power as I was leaving and found my legs and cardio surprisingly willing, so I ended up hammering out a 20.8 average for the 5 mile "power band". I was really surprised my legs were holding up, but not wanting to break my toy I pulled the plug at WBP and stopped for some water and a cool-down.

I met a great guy there named Issac, who had a Star of David tattoo on his right arm. He was riding a track bike, which he likes because it keeps him from getting "lazy" on his rides, requiring him to keep his legs moving all the time. Since his primary goal is burning sugar out of his blood to control diabetes each day, this seemed like a brilliant strategy.

It did get us talking about famous track cyclists, the 1984 Olympics, and Nelson Vails in particular. I was living in LA during that time and drove down to Carson a few times to watch the matched sprints qualification races for the Olympics. I took a lot of pics of those events, so I might have a few of Nelson in my collection. Will have to check.

Look at those tree-trunks
The guy's legs are gigantic!
Issac, originally from Jersey, also told me he showed up at the draft board during the Vietnam war with his parents, each of which had Nazi concentration camp serial number tattoos. The draft board didn't have the heart to ask any more of his family, so he was excused.

I'm starting to notice how many people I am meeting that, like me, ride just to stay healthy. Health insurance rarely makes any contribution to your health - it's a fund to mitigate the financial impact of disease. Nothing more and nothing less.

Health insurance will no more keep you healthy than auto insurance will prevent accidents. It's diet and exercise that keeps you healthy. Exciting to see so many executing on that insight.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Racing the Sun

Out for a 15 mi loop right before sunset, so had to make it a hard, fast ride tonight. Something special about riding at sunset. The "get back to the cave, the wolves are starting to howl" juices really start flowing.

Speaking of wolf chow, I almost hit two deer who froze on either side of the 8' bike trail, and then bolted when I got within 15 ft. I anticipated the problem, but still made very good use of the new front brake pads. I think it was the heavy breathing that scared them. Must have been doe ;)

They, and every other critter along the ARPT look incredibly healthy this year with the late, wet, spring, and cool summer. Flocks of a dozen or more quail are common, as are coyotes, skunks, snakes, peacocks, HUGE turkeys, and a thriving California Condor population. (or are those just buzzards?) Also seeing road-kill squirrels in large numbers - a testament to their sheer numbers this year - as you rarely see this otherwise.

Forgot to start the timer on the Garmin, so only have the last 5 miles, and most of that is rolling hills coming home. Still managed to average 18mph - surprising since I hardly used the aerobars at all tonight, using the drops instead. I'm getting more comfortable down there, and was happy with the power. My back is a little trashed though.

Won't get to ride with SBH tomorrow night as I have some errands attendant with selling a car to do. Will be happy to have this chore behind me.