Archive for November, 2008

Budget Surplus

thanksgiving_dinnerThe last few years, I’ve always had a built in guilt buster for my Thanksgiving day.  A nice, steady hour on the trainer in the morning that burns up a good 1,000 calories.  It was great; not only did I get supercharged for the days festivities, I didn’t have to worry about that third slice of pie.

Well this year it didn’t happen.  My last ride was on Tuesday after work, and I felt like crap the whole time.  I probably shouldn’t have ridden, but the self-inflicted guilt trip pushed me forward.  Since then I’ve been held back by a low-grade cold that only bothers me in the first half of the day.  Weird.

It’s hard to explain to non riders, but the combination of not riding and continuing to eat – Thanksgiving, no less – makes you feel so scared that you’re going to put on that dreaded winter weight that’s so hard to shake.  I was fat before, and I don’t ever want to go back.  The thought of me slowly sliding back to that status scares the hell out of me.

I know that I will have a surplus of calories for the week; so that only means weight going up.  I need to find a good trainer schedule this season.  It’s been kind of haphazard this time around.  I used to be able to count on Monday, Wednesday, Friday as a good schedule but this year the Mondays are the point of contention.  I need those 3 rides every week to stay in the zone as far as maintaining weight and keeping good fitness.  A 4th ride is a bonus.

I haven’t weighed myself in a couple weeks, and I don’t think I want to see where it is.  I’m sure I’m pushing past 170.  I’d like to be in the low 160s when spring rolls around.  I think it’s going to take some calorie cutting on the intake side to make the math work this time around.

Too bad that when training volume goes down, appetite stays the same.

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The Tao of Michael Barry

Michael BarryFor those of you who don’t already know, Michael Barry is a top level pro cyclist currently riding for Team Columbia, and formerly for the US Postal juggernaut.  He writes an occasional rider diary for VeloNews that continues to impress me.

In his latest installment, he extolls the unusual talent and maturity that his young teammate, Craig Lewis shows.  My pessimistic side keeps waiting for one of those “it was tough but we somehow managed, it’s so crazy!” rider tomes that are so much cage liner.  Well, it never happens – this guy has a gift for good writing.  He even wrote a book.

His ability to leave it all on the road, turn himself inside out so that his team can prevail – is well documented.  It’s his skills at painting a picture with words I think will perhaps be a greater testament to his career.

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Yin Yang

So Popo signed with Astana.  I gotta hand it to Johan Bruyneel; that team is a black hole for grand tour talent, even sans Lance.  If ASO decides to let them compete this year, I can’t see anyone beating them. 

I hope for Popo’s sake that he performs better than he did this year.  Silence-Lotto signed him on for one reason and one reason only – shepherd Cadel Evans through the high mountains of the Tour de France.  In that regard he was an unmitigated failure.  From the get-go, Cadel was always isolated when the roads tipped up and Popovych was nowhere to be found.  Perhaps there was more to the story than just a poorly-timed bad performance, but I hope for his sake that he returns to his old form for Astana.

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I was disappointed to hear of the Tour de Georgia being cancelled for 2009.  It was the elder statesman of the three “American Grand Tours” – California, Georgia and Missouri.  It will leave a void in my springtime sports watching.  The classics are great, but there’s nothing like a good stage race to follow.  I sincerely hope they can get their sponsorships together and rebound like the Tour of Utah did after taking a year off.

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Engine Work

engineworkIt’s been a couple weeks since I’ve moved back on to the trainer for the season.  I know most roadies dread the idea of leaving the road for the trainer, but for me I’ve accepted it as a necessary evil.

This will be my 5th winter season on the trainer.  You would think that I know myself as a cyclist by now, but I keep learning more and more as I continue to ride.  One thing I’ve noticed since I started gearing up for cool weather riding last fall is that I lose some of the “snap” in my legs as a result.  I’m not exactly sure why, but those first few interval sessions on the trainer are always tough.  Now that I’ve done about 7 of them, I’ve got that snap back.

This should also be obvious to me, but as I ride the longer rides in the summer, my conditioning is more toward putting forth a medium-hard effort for 2-3 hours.  The trainer rides, however, are rarely longer than 1:15 and the effort is more compact – higher tempo with bursts of very hard efforts.

The upshot is that the summer works the overall endurance and the trainer works on the engine.  After contemplating this, I think there is a confluence of conditioning that happens around Memorial Day.  I have the engine still tuned from the trainer, and I am regaining the longer distance endurance.  This can really change my outlook on goals for the 2009 season.

First of all, the assault of Lake Desolation Road will likely come early in the season rather than later.  I was so keyed on having the endurance to do the 3.5 hour ride that I didn’t work enough on my aerobic/anaerobic capacity.  I don’t think I was that far off from it; if I can work in some hard efforts on the road – do some good climbing repeats – I will be in good shape to tackle the beast.

Secondly, if I want to do the MHCC Century in September, I won’t have a training conflict.  I can spend the rest of the season after the Desolation climb building up longer endurance.  This year I was able to do a de facto unsupported metric century on my long rides.

As coach Troy says, an hour on the trainer is worth two on the road.  I will affirm that statement with the more “Aerobically Correct” rides on the trainer – there is no let up in the effort; no slowing down for intersections or turn around points.  I’m putting the engine out on the test track.  It’s time to heat up that resistance unit.

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