Spring is here?

As far as the pro peloton goes, it’s on!  I watched the Tour of Flanders today, and it was one of the best races I’ve ever seen.

“Looking back, you get a bit nostalgic, but from a competitive point of view, Flanders was one of the most horrible races to ride but one of the greatest races to win.” – Sean Kelly

I thought for sure Cancellara was going to win. Then I thought for sure Gilbert was going to win. Then I thought Chavanel would win the game of tactics. Then I again thought Cancellara was going to win. Then Nuyens won.

What an amazing race.  Paris-Roubaix has a lot to live up to next week.

The weather here is improving, but at an agonizing pace.  It’s going to be raining a lot this week, but I have a shot at riding outside at least one day.  At least my trainer rides have been getting better as I adapt to more interval workouts.  I’m still working in some tempo rides; I need to do longer average rides this season – I want to have the average be right around 2½ hours.

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Think Spring

This morning I shoveled the slushy detritus pushed into my driveway from this morning’s snowplow.  When I was done, I looked up to see what has become two huge towers of snow.  One side is at least 6½ feet tall, the other nearly so.

These behemoths have been tall enough to affect both the view when entering/exiting the road and trash pickup since the first week of January.  So why am I thinking spring now?

Well for starters tomorrow is forecast to bring heavy rain and 40°+ temps, along with above-freezing highs for the rest of the week (mostly).  More importantly, I ventured to my LBS yesterday and ordered up my tires for the year.  A nice pair of Continental GP 4000s (700×25).  I settled for Gatorskins last year.  Never again.

All of this makes me so very hopeful that Spring will be here soon.  March is here in two days, and that is always a good sign.  I just have to stay focused on the trainer and stay disciplined on what I eat.  I am optimistic for this year’s rides.

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BikeAlike: Falling Down

Hello all.  This time around we have one person felled by a computer.  The other felled by his own demons.

I present one Ken Jennings; taken out by Watson, the IBM supercomputer on Jeopardy!.

Ken Jennings

The second of today’s pairing is the enigmatic Floyd Landis; winner and loser of the 2006 Tour de France.

Floyd Landis

 

Ken Jennings, while seemingly smug, doesn’t irritate me like he does some people.  I’m totally jealous of what he did on Jeopardy! – I can’t get past the online contestant searches.

Floyd on the other hand has done his best to burn all bridges he had in cycling.  He denied everything for years and even took in donations for his defense, then about faced and said he did it after all.  While this is certainly enough to blight him in most people’s eyes, I think his worst act was to effectively take down the Bahati Foundation team.

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Picking up the Tempo

To my faithful readers, I ain’t dead.

For some reason, this winter has been a rough one.  Particularly January with double the normal snowfall and decidedly below average temps.  Add to that December’s hit parade of high intensity trainer workouts, and you have a recipe for trainer burnout.  For a 3 week stretch I begrudgingly rode once or twice a week, skipped weights often and found reasons to avoid riding.

The trend is reversing as of late – at least I have enough motivation to write another post.  This past week saw a long-overdo thaw before returning to the freezer.  Being that it is now late February, there is at least some hope on the horizon.  The distance to Spring can be counted in weeks, not months.

Along with this refreshing of spirit, I have shelved the mind-bending anaerobic pain cave workouts for something entirely mundane; the zen of the Tempo ride.  For the longest time, I treated them as a necessary chore to throw in once in a while; a mental test of holding a moderate pace for an hour.  Out of my recent doldrums I decided to give them a revisit.

Now after my warm up and stretch, I begin a 45-60 minute ride at a moderate pace (a 5 or 6 out of 10).  That pace is good for 12-15 minutes.  In that time, my engine gets fully up to temperature and I get comfortable.  Then I step up the effort level to a 7-7.5/10.  This is a high aerobic effort, but I can hold it for a long time without drifting anaerobic.  Holding this effort level for a solid 15-20 minutes really does the trick.

I know that this time of year is for base building and I think I get it now.  I was upside down; instead of rides with high intensity spins and killer anaerobic intervals dominating my schedule, I am now committed to the opposite.  No fewer than 2 (preferably 3) Tempo rides for every interval workout.  I need to keep the intervals in there to keep some power level around for Spring, but being able to go for a long ride out of the gate once it warms up is more important to me.

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Fringe Benefit

We all know cycling is good for you.  However, sometimes I still discover new benefits of a life spent behind (handle) bars.

When I got home from work today, the temperature in my house was 60°F.  I turned on the heat while I got ready to ride the trainer, and turned it back down when I got started.

When I was all done, the temperature had returned to about 62.  I was warmed up enough to be comfortable for the next hour without turning up the heat.  In the meantime, Mrs. Stallion returned home and started a fire in our wood stove.  The heat steadily grew from it and we were comfortable.

I can imagine that there would be a large energy savings if a significant number of people exercised at home on a cold day and used that as an opportunity to reduce their need for heat.

Another fringe benefit.  Who knew?

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An ode to the Sufferfest

I did “Downward Spiral” today.  A solid hour on the pain train.  I hate it while I’m in the middle of it, but love the results it gives me.

 

Sufferfest is rough

makes me forget cold weather

I love and hate you

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Happy Chanukkah

8 crazy nights

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