Archive for category Riding

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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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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A Case of Guilt Gut

I remember the term “guilt gut” as the feeling you get in your stomach when you knew that you did something wrong.

Tonight was going to be a ride day.  Turns out, I get stuck in traffic on the way home from work.  It took about 3 times as long as usual.  So I get home and I’m a little stressed and tired.  Mrs. Stallion suggests riding tomorrow and going out for dinner.

The combination of being a good husband and lack of discipline made the decision for me.  So of course, I could do the right thing health-wise and get a satisfying light meal.  I do the exact opposite; an Italian Mix sub.  At least I was able to resist the temptation for dessert.

The feeling afterward was that of Guilt Gut.  In a literal sense, I felt very full.  This was a big, big sandwich eaten with a 20 ounce soda.  In a figurative sense, I felt terrible for the 180 degree turn my evening took.  Instead of exercise and oatmeal, I ate an unhealthy dinner and watched TV.

There have been times like this in the past.  Most of the time I don’t learn from it.  Sometimes, however, the light goes on and discipline returns.  I want that to happen this time.  I hate the guilty feeling because I know what I did was wrong.

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I can’t believe I’m thinking this

A thought crackled through my brain as I was looking at the weather forecast for this week.

“I do better on the Trainer”

Blasphemy.

I utter this in the middle of July?  What the Hell am I thinking?  The trainer is supposed to be the embodiment of a tortuous, monotony-filled, claustrophobic bore-fest of a winter season that seemingly drags on forever.  I should be reveling in the delights of a summer season filled with new personal bests, long rides pushing up against 3 hours and the occasional unsupported metric century.

The reality: I have been doing about two rides a week since Memorial Day.  My fitness has taken a big hit and my weight is creeping up (slowly, thank God).  Most of last summer and into the current one my riding has become increasingly sporadic.  Goals go out the window and I’m happy just to get something in.

The irony is that during the winter my rides on the Trainer are scheduled out.  I can say with a high degree of certainty that I will do 3 rides every week, and occasionally a bonus one.  Also, I’m realizing that the quick weight workout I do after trainer rides is more beneficial that I thought.  The loss of tone is really evident even if the strength losses themselves are moderate.

The solution?  Difficult to say; “ride more” is easier said than done apparently.  I may need to change focus to shorter rides so I can get home from work, do a short (under an hour) ride with a little intensity and still have time to do the other things that may have gotten in the way.  To draw the TdF analogy, now I’m hunting for stage wins.

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It’s Been A While

So, I haven’t posted in a few weeks and that’s OK.  We’ve had some odd weather here lately and it affected the rides I was able to take.

We had a stretch of well-above average temps toward the end of March, so I got off of the trainer and got back outside to try and get some endurance back.  I scheduled a Spring tune up at the LBS and it all looked good.

I get our bikes back and the temps drop and the rains arrive.  Fantastic.  I get new tires mounted and I have to ride the trainer again.  Ugh.  Fortunately I only did 3 rides on the trainer before the weather turned and now I’m back on the road for the season.  In fact, I just completed a three day stretch of good rides.

Some observations:

My new tires for this year are Continental Gatorskins.  The initial verdict is a B+.  They give a comfortable ride, but they could be livelier.  Definitely a training tire.  I have them at 110 psi, but I think I actually want a harsher ride out of them so the next rides will have them up to 115.  People rave about the puncture resistance and the sidewall reinforcement is immediately obvious.  It’s too early to tell if that’s true, but I have been able to avoid flats on any tire I’ve used for the last 4 years or so.  I’m sure by May I will know how much I miss the old 4000s.

The spring tune up also included a drive train cleaning.  That thing looks brand freaking new.  I couldn’t believe how good it looked.  wow.  I actually wondered if they replaced the cassette and chain.

Mrs. Stallion’s bike also got a tune up.  Now, it’s an old Huffy but all bikes Great and Small deserve to be in good riding shape.  To her great credit she has been riding the trainer more and more in addition to other exercises.  In fact, she went for a ride around a route we checked out over the winter.  It’s about a 7-8 mile route she can loop around.

When she got back from the ride we were discussing how it went.  She told me that the gears shifted much better since the tune up.  In fact, she noticed early on in the ride that the LBS returned the bike shifted on to the small front chainring.  To which she replied, “I ride in the big ring, bitches!”.

It’s going to be a good year.

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Well, the work situation is still a bit hectic.  As I mentioned before, my day job is as a computer programmer and I launched a new system a few weeks ago.

Since that time the inevitable fires have needed putting out.  Of course this involves a significant amount of time outside of work in order to keep things under control.  Any time I could get on the bike was a godsend.

Thankfully, I was able to get in my four rides on the trainer each week.  A welcome time to decompress before I buckled down to crank out some more code.

Last week I was fortunate to have my last two rides of the week outside!  It’s always such a great feeling to get out there again.  Four and a half months straight of trainer rides can wear on you.

Now I get to play that game where I have to decide when the trainer is done for good and schedule a time for the annual tune up at the LBS.  I know I will be back on the trainer at least until Wednesday.

Thanks to the vest  I got last year (a Pearl Izumi Zephyrr), I have lowered my threshold temperature down to around 50°F.  I know that it’s supposed to be in the low 50s in the latter part of the week but that’s still a good 7-8° above average.

I’ll take it.  Any day with a ride outside is a good one.  When things get crazy at work some people drink, get prescriptions or take it out on other people.  I ride a bike.  As simple as it sounds, the act of positive physical stress is cleansing to my mind.  That cold spring air along with it is a bonus.

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