Posts Tagged bike riding

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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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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Consistency at Last

A quick check over at Winning Stats shows I had 11 rides for November.  Not bad, considering that my goal every month is for 12 rides.  I consider three rides a week to be a good pace.

It’s also a good number of rides considering the paltry amount I did over the summer.  We set a record for rain here in July, and August was only slightly better.  I think I had 12 rides over the course of two months.  Blech.

Factor in that I packed it in during the second week of October, and the road season this year sucked.

I’m glad that the Sufferfest is putting out new material, as I’m finally fully adjusted to trainer mode.  I think that I’m learning what training works best for me during these cold, dark months.  The outright thrashing of some of the Spinervals videos isn’t what I’m looking for.  I guess that the Sufferfest is dishing out similar punishment, but I have a good time doing them.  The Trainright workouts seem to work well also, but they leave me in better condition afterward.  I feel that I definitely put out a hard effort, but I recover from them better and feel that I get a stronger fitness gain.

I have also been reading about the classic off-season “LSD” (Long, slow distance) theory of building the base.  Since I’m not a racer, I can feel free to take my own approach.  What seems to be working so far is mixing in at least one mid-tempo hour-long ride per week.  I throw in a time trial-esque 10 minute high aerobic interval to make it a little harder, but it’s just a good calorie-burner.

The mix of tempo and interval workouts is feeling like a good mix.  I just have to be able to keep at it and hope for better weather come April.

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Which Way Do I Turn?

Barney and BarneyWhen I’m out on the road, I have a good sense of where I want to ride.  There are times when I get to an intersection and, depending on how I’m feeling and the weather conditions, I’ll take a different direction than what I had planned.

It’s that time of year now when that change of direction becomes a metaphor for whether or not I go anywhere when I turn the pedals.  It’s a colder than usual October here, and I’m desperately checking the long range forecasts for anything above 52°F and a wind less than 15mph.  I’m not having much luck.

I was all psyched to gain a calendar advantage with a riding vest.  I was able to use it only once so far.  It has not only been cold, but very windy and rainy.  The one ride was successful, but it was almost two weeks ago.

I have stated before that I ride for fitness and for fun.  To me, riding in a cold rain while pushing the red line so I can go 12mph into a stiff headwind is not fun.  The other side of the coin here is that I can turn this all around by calling it a season and moving indoors to ride on the trainer.

Is this that much of a decision?  I can eliminate weather as a factor and get in three solid workouts every week.  No more numb fingers and toes, no more chasing ever-waning daylight, no more feeling guilty that – while my appetite has not lessened – my caloric expenditure has.

I think I know what I should be doing, but I’m fighting it – for now.  I should just pay attention to the signs; there’s only one way to go.

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Feeling Loopy

loopMost of us cyclists have a handful of reliable routes that we ride.  I am no different.  Whether I’m heading south into Vischer Ferry or north and west toward Charlton, my routes are a point to point affair – beginning and ending in my driveway.

Surprisingly, one thing that had never occurred to me was to define a loop course and do laps around it.  About a month ago, I decided to do just that.  It took some getting used to, but I now consider it a welcome addition to my cadre of routes. 

My observations:

  1. Directions: It’s weird riding 11 miles and only making one left turn.  Like most of the terrain out here, it’s rarely flat for more than a half mile.  You’re either going up or down.
  2. Poor man’s hill repeats:  There is a nice Berg about 5 miles into the loop.  Every lap takes me up it one more time.
  3. Passing the finish line (temptation):  I always set out with a predetermined number of laps to complete.  However, if it’s one of those days that I have dead legs, it’s very tempting to just bag it early when I see the start/finish line.  I haven’t done it yet, but it has crossed my mind.  Also, there are two points along the way where I can take a shortcut home.  I always ignore them and consider them for emergencies only – a storm fast approaching, a mechanical problem, bonked, injury, etc.
  4. A nice way to measure out a ride:  It’s almost exactly an 11 mile circuit.  I ride about 2 miles total getting to and from it.  That way, it’s easy for me to know how many calories to bring along and about how long the ride will take (One loop takes about 40-45 minutes).  It’s funny, but when I do the longer point-to-point rides, I feel weird not doing the whole route.  When I ride the loop, it’s ok to only do one circuit because I’m crunched for time.

All in all, I’m glad I did it.  Once again I prove to myself that there can be something more to discover on roads you’ve ridden countless times.

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It’s Go Time

When I saw the forecast for this week, I knew it would be a good one.  I planned on riding four days this week, and that’s saying something this year.

This season has been pretty bad in terms of riding volume.  I counted 7 rides for all of August.  That’s it.  In a normal year that total would be around 12.  They would also be longer rides.  I was averaging about 2½ hours per ride last year and this year it’s dropped to about 2 hours flat.

It’s been the same old gremlins that get me: weather and schedule conflicts.  July was the rainiest on record, and August had a host of non-cycling commitments.  Ergo July and August combine for 15 rides.  Pathetic.

Then there’s this week.  The weather is awesome – 70s, low humidity, light wind.  I’ve already been out twice and have two more on the calendar.  It’s such a small thing, but it’s huge in my riding confidence.  My average speed on rides is down a good half a mile per hour.  If I can push it as I have done so far this week, I can have good form going into the cool weather season of late September and October.  If the vest I’m purchasing works out, I could conceivably ride at least a week into November.  Anything to delay the trainer season.

They say Spring is the season of renewal.  If things go as planned this week, Spring will move to September.

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