Posts Tagged cycling

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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So Much For That Experiment

Note: Sorry about the dearth of posts.  I’ve got a lengthier one in the works.

So yesterday was an island of great cycling weather in between two crappy days.  I left work early in order to get in a good 2 hour-plus ride in lovely Vischer Ferry.  I get home and notice I have a flat on my rear tire.  Ugh.  I’m no wrench but I can repair a flat.

Now, I’ve seen competitions (on You Tube anyway) of people changing out a tube in under a minute.  You will notice I don’t appear in these videos.  I take my time to remove the old tube and try to locate the failure.  After wrestling with it for what felt like 20 minutes I find that the failure was a puncture through the sidewall.  Of my Continental Gatorskins.

Aren’t these supposed to be the tires with awesome sidewall protection?  I haven’t had a puncture flat in 5 years.  Add this to the lame road feel of these tires and I will never buy them again.  In fact, the tire that replaced it on my bike is an old GP4000 front tire that was destined for the trainer as a rear wheel beater.  Well, it’s getting pressed into service about a month early.

If you’re interested, the GP4000s have a much livelier road feel and I run them at about 10psi lower than the Gatorskins.  I guess there’s a reason that the GP4000s are a go-to model for so many riders.  They WILL be on my bike come next spring.

P.S. – the latex gloves I keep in the garage for this type of bike work – especially anything that involves fiddling with the chain – are a great idea.  That black grime that can get on your skin does not wash away easily.

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A right good ass kicking

Through forces beyond my control, I was unable to get out for a ride for a solid 9 (!) days.  Suffice it to say that going out for a 40 mile ride on a Saturday morning with little wind and temps in the 70s was enticing.  I was psyched – I needed this ride.

I went out on a route that I am very familiar with and I knew would take a little over 2 hours.  The first climb up Schauber Road was what I expected:  a steep grade that takes a couple minutes to get up.  I went into the red zone for the last 100 yards or so.  That’s the standard plan for that climb; short anaerobic bursts are needed for fitness gains.  I got to the top a little slower than usual, but I wasn’t expecting to hold on to all of my form after 9 days.

The second climb is a very steep but also very short “berg” about 4 miles later that takes around 30 seconds to ascend.  I got up it, but holy cow it was tough.  I was still feeling the first climb all the way out to this one.

This was the theme for the ride.  I had one more serious climb and a bunch of rollers thereafter.  I felt winded and worn out for the duration.  This is what it’s like to lose form this quickly – the first big effort is doable, but the subsequent ones are where the lack of fitness shows itself.

I purposely added a mostly flat 3 miles to the end of the ride in the hope that I would get a small endurance benefit from it.  There’s no two ways around it, I felt it.  I really hope that this ride gets me some fitness in return, but it was a toughie.

Some of you have noticed the dearth of posts lately.  I’ll try to put up more frequent posts, but the Mrs. and I are in the process of moving to a new house so all the craziness that goes with selling, buying, agents, lawyers, mortgage, etc. exacts its toll.  I’ll need more frequent rides to balance out my sanity.

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Inside Looking Out

Sun through the window

Ride prospects are deceiving

Alas, the wind 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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Topics to Ponder

Last year at this time I was musing the year that was.  However, this time around I just didn’t have the motivation to look back.  Overall it was a sub-par year for me.  There was a metric assload of rain in July and August and my total miles were down around 25%.  Now it’s January and I am wrestling with the traditional winter issues of weight gain and trainer rides.  I need to look forward, not back.  It’s time to do a status check.

Here’s what’s going on right now:  Starting 4-ride weeks on the trainer.  I have just enough cycling clothes to do this.  They will take the form of two interval workouts and two tempo rides.  I need to increase the volume and I don’t want to burn myself out on constant lung-burners.  No January Champions here.

I’m going to do one tempo ride on the weekend and fit the other three in mid-week.  This should be a fun exercise in reovery.

I want to train for a century this year, but not like I have done in the past.  No, this will be what I’m calling a “Circuit Century”.  This past summer I added a loop route to my stable of rides.  It measures about 10 miles per lap.  Yep, I want to take a shot at 10 laps.

If it’s anything like riding a more conventional century, there will be at least two brief stops.  I’m going to need them to to refuel and keep my sanity.  I’m liking the idea.  I just hope it’s not stupid.  (FYI, 4 laps was my max last year on that route)

Speaking of riding longer distances, I need to give my most precious contact point greater support.  More specifically, the Canari Velo II shorts I have had since 2006 are nearing the end of their run.  I bought a pair of Performance Elite bibs with a gel chamois, and mostly like them.  The gel chamois is a little rough at times, but nothing a little chamois cream shouldn’t help.  I’d like to get a couple more of these, but experience tells me to go for the foam padding.  Ride and learn.

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