Archive for December, 2008

Year In Review

Another year comes to a close, and everywhere can be seen a year-end wrap up.  Being an inherent sheep, I of course feel compelled to deliver one also.  So as they say on the BBC World Service, Here again are the main points.

New Job for Mrs. Stallion

A great weight was lifted from both of us when my wife embarked on a new career as a manicurist nail technician.  After toiling for years at a job she didn’t like, she finally took the leap into a new profession.  I can sympathise as I had a similar episode some ten years ago.  Nothing can suck the life force out of you like having to go to a job you hate every day.  Kudos to her.

Cancellara at Milan-San Remo (and Swiss Tour)

The best performances I saw in road racing this year both came from Tony Spartacus himself, Fabian Cancellara.  At Milan San Remo, the way he powered up at the last kilometer of a seven hour race was amazing.  What a way to stamp your dominance over the competition.  Not to be outdone in his home tour in June, he won two stages including a turn-yourself-inside-out sprint win in the final stage.  It was a career year for the Swiss rider, and he shows no signs of decline heading toward 2009.

Goal of Lake Desolation Road

My personal riding goal was set the previous winter.  I had decided at that point that the whole purpose of my outdoor season was to successfully complete the climb up Lake Desolation Road.  It was great motivation; the more I talked about it, the more I trained for the endurance required, the more I wanted it.

Alas, I was only able to complete it with a stop near the end.  However, it will become a part of my seasons as I go forward.  It’s a great route to take when I want to do a long ride – there and back is nearly 4 hours.

Discover some new roads in Charlton

As a result of my Desolation training, I rode quite a bit into the town of Charlton.  It’s a really nice place to ride – long stretches of road with wide, clean shoulders, very low traffic and pleasant scenery.  The intersections are few, and I get to ride through farm country.  I even went past a farm that was raising miniature horses.  To do all of the miles I want to in that town I can easily be out for 3 hours.  It gets a bow on it at the end, as I come home by way of my favorite “berg“; a short but very steep climb about 6 miles from home.  Sweet.

Start Blog

I can’t let this very venture slip past.  In August I launched this world-altering blog.  My stats via WordPress are encouraging.  I’m not overwhelmed with visitors, but I can definitely see that I have my readers.  To all of you, I say a hearty thanks!

Skipping Century in favor of Ocean City

I rode to Lake Desolation on September 1st.  A few days later, Mrs. Stallion and I took a needed vacation in the tourist trap of Ocean City, Maryland.  It was a refreshing few days at the beach, shopping, eating treats and generally chillaxin.

The timing was interesting.  I had a conflict of sorts;  there is a well-run Century ride every September here the weekend after Labor Day.  In this year’s case, that would have been on the weekend we came back from vacation.  I knew I was in better riding shape than I was when I first rode it in 2006.  However, common sense prevailed (I think) and I chose the beach instead.  Next year though, I think I can destroy my previous time of just under 7 hours.  Somebody hold me to this.

Better “off season” setup

As I write this, I am about 25 feet from my bike.  Last year that wasn’t the case.  I have been promoted from the basement to what was a spare bedroom.  It’s nice – I’m not freezing when I start and it’s a much friendlier environment.  The  multimedia experience is in effect; 7 Carmichael Do the Tour stages on CD and 4 Spinervals DVDs on the TV.  With all this, you’d think I would be on the trainer more but for some reason I’m averaging less rides per week.  I have 10 rides in December (11 for sure before New Year’s), but it should have had a few more.  It’s a nice segue into the next stanza:

No time off in January?

Usually, I take a week completely off of riding during the first full week of January.  It’s a time to recharge, heal annoying pains and take a mental break.  But with the (unintentional) reduction in riding this season, I might skip skipping.  I’d hate to hang on to all those extra holiday calories I threw down.  I’m not sure I could handle the guilt of intentionally not riding for 7 days straight.

Wow, that’s a lot for me to say.  I hope I haven’t driven too many of you away with this diatribe.  Maybe I can pull new people in by using the word “goth” again.  The last time I did that my hits spiked.


Let’s see how long a tome like this can hold me over.  Have a great new year everybody.  Open roads for all and keep the rubber side down.


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Carlos Sastre Is A Mensch

carlos_sastreYour 2008 Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre.  He made the traditional magnanimous gesture of a Tour winner by distributing his prize money among his teammates.  He also gave 10,000 Euros to a children’s hospital in Belgium shortly thereafter.

With the spate of lousy news and shady characters that all too often plague the sport, it’s nice to hear the “Good Guy” stories.

Before July, Sastre was perhaps better known for being a Grand Tour iron man – at one point finishing 5 consecutively.  A pure climber, so-so time trailist and perennial high finisher but never a threat to the likes of Armstrong, Ullrich and Basso.

Well, to add to his Good Guy cred, His jersey sold for 15,000 Euros to support his charity for needy children.  This guy gets it.  None of the Ricco cockiness, not a whiff of controversy or doping noise.  Just go out there and mash.  His performance on Alpe d’Huez this year was awesome.  I just hope he and his new Cervelo team can still be competitive when the Tour comes around again, with Astana likely back in the mix.

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Today’s Haiku

Snow is falling now

The road is a memory

Trainer rules the roost

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Ice Ice Baby

Click to embiggenateSo I know there are some hardcore riders out there who don’t let little things like the weather get in their way.

Well, I didn’t see anybody out in the ice storm we just had.  That was a bad one – I didn’t have power for a solid 24 hours and my house temp dropped to a numbing 50 degrees.  Other parts of my town won’t be back on line for another couple of days.

The picture here was taken in my back yard.  The entire surrounding area looked like it was carefully coated in glass.

There were utility crews, toppled trees and sagging power lines everywhere.  It’s amazing that the power was out only for a day.  A big tip of my hat to the utility workers – thanks!  Now I can get back to staying warm the old fashioned way; having a coach bark at me while I ride indoors.

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Anaerobic = Suck

denis_menchov_toastedIn the interest of diversified training, I am making more (read: any) use of “above lactate threshold” trainer workouts.  I know that if I want to have any significant fitness gains, I have to push beyond my current limits from time to time.

Coach Fred has stated before that (I’m paraphrasing) if you want to go faster, then go faster.  That is to say, if you never make the attempt to ride above 25mph, you’ll never train yourself to do it.  If you never climb a significant grade, you’ll never be a serious climber.

So I did a couple: stage 17 of the 2006 Do The Tour…Stay at Home series and Spinervals’ No Slackers Allowed.  It’s obvious to me that anaerobic workouts can really expose the weak points in your fitness.  In my case, it showed a few things – that it hurts like hell to go into the red zone, that I may not be fully recovered from my cold of a week and a half ago, and that I can’t keep up with an LT workout.  In short, it sucks.

It sucks because I don’t like them, but I want the results.  I want higher fitness.  I don’t want to spit out pieces of my lungs to get it.  I want to burn up lots of calories in the winter so I can have a great start to the outdoor season in April.  I can’t (right now, anyway) do these things as long workouts.

So the result of this consideration?  Tonight I do a nice steady high aerobic tempo ride.  A good hour and a half with a few 5 minute steady-state intervals thrown in for good measure.  When I’m done, I will be tired, but not wrecked.

I’m going to have to be judicious about when I do these lung-burner trainer efforts.  Up to now, I rotated through my training media – avoiding the trap of favoring certain workouts.  The anaerobic-heavy rides are going to get pushed to the last ride of the week; I know then that I will have at least two days to recover from them.

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