Thursday, January 11, 2018

EXERCISE, BREAK THE HABIT!!

     The title is just to get your attention.  The blog is about how easy it is to break the habit.  Earlier this morning, Carolyn Defoore posted in Shott Performance Coaching an easy loosening routine called Myrtl.  When I first signed up with Owen (Shott, coach), several months ago, he sent me the link to Myrtl and it became part of my workout calendar.  This morning, while drinking my wake-up glass of water (this is a habit I don't break: 12 ounces of water as soon as I stagger into the kitchen), I confessed that I had skipped a few days (more like a few weeks, I blame Christmas) and had stiff joints.  Now, it might have been being beaten up by the wind for a couple hours on the bike yesterday, but at least part of it I ascribe to lack of Myrtl.
     It reminded me just how easy it is to do something (anything) other than exercise.  I guess I average fifteen hours a week on the bike, so it isn't like I'm a couch potato.  It's the other exercises that pose the problem.
     #1 advice on the exercise chart is to pick something you like, can do, and can commit to.  It doesn't have to be strenuous.  I am a big proponent of yoga, and stayed with it about ten years before getting more involved in cycling.  Lately I've noticed a tightening of my lower back muscles and that walking was an easy exercise that would loosen them up.  Myrtl is another easy exercise you can do while the coffee brews.
     Sticking with your exercise is the hard part.  It's best if you have a routine.  Of course, when the routine gets interrupted, it takes strong commitment to stay with exercise.  For instance, my morning routine is to wake up, have my water, pull up the computer to catch up, and once my wife is up and moving, make the coffee.  While brewing, I do some hand/wrist exercises and hip circles.  Between coffee and breakfast I do Myrtl, CoreX (another 5 minute exercise from Coach Owen) or planks or push-ups.  After breakfast I get ready to ride (unless it is too cold, too windy, too early).  Christmas decorating, undecorating, guests, you-name-it sometimes gets me out of routine.  The first to suffer is non-biking exercise.
     I have found that after cycling, my body (actually my mind) wants no more exercise.  This takes a little explanation.  If the ride hasn't been too strenuous, like under three hours, I will put the bike away and do about fifteen minutes of stretching (yoga type).   If longer or particularly depleting of electrolytes, I forego the stretching until later.  I learned the hard way that depleted muscles will cramp.  Also, social rides that end with a few carbohydrate-replacing beers fall into that category.   "Later" most times never happens.
     This is why Myrtl, yoga type exercises and walking are important.  They can be done anytime and aren't strenuous.  Stretching can be done in your house and walking can be started right outside your front door.  95% of those who read this blog are athletes, committed to their sport.  But your sport-specific exercises might be ignoring the rest of your body.  Enhance your performance, get your whole body involved. 
     BTW, a review of my posts show I've broached this subject several times in the past, December 13, 2011 and December 29, 2014 among others.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

LIME CREEK

     The weather this past week was less than desirable and the coming week is certifiable kitchen-on-the-trainer weather.  Historically I avoid riding on Saturday, using that as my rest day.  However, to get in any decent workout, and with the immediate future looking so dim, I began casting about for riding companions.  Saturday Solo would be my last option.
     The Bicycle Sport Shop has two group rides out of their Research Blvd. store.  But I detest riding on Parmer Lane, which is the out-and-back route for the 25-miler and most of the 35-miler.  There was a glimmer of hope with the announcement of The Dam Loop Ride also leaving the Research store.  This is a 50-mile ride at a good pace.  Unfortunately, the ride leader postponed it until next week.  I considered volunteering to lead it, briefly.  Then I was thrown a lifeline.  Jerome posted he was doing the Lime Creek Loop and would anyone like to join him.  Lime Creek is only 30ish miles but is strenuous enough that I immediately assented.  Another BSS rider, Dinh, would make it a threesome.  A bonus was the 9:30am start time, rather than the 8:00am of the other rides.
     I've ridden Lime Creek at least a half-dozen times, in both directions.  I like the route.  But in all of the previous rides, I've struggled.  Unlike most others, I have a triple chainring so the major feature, the Three Sisters (a beast of a three-tiered climb) is not the sticking point.  I make it up, usually with a gear to spare.   No, no matter who is leading, I cannot seem to keep up on the road leading to the climb.  The route itself is actually fun, with undulations and curves and a couple of short, steep climbs.  There are always cyclists riding it so the residents are mostly very good about safely passing.
     Jerome led out at a brisk pace, one that upped my heart rate rather quickly.  The first six or so miles are flat, and we hung around 15-17 mph.  Then the turn onto FM 2769.  First a few rollers then a big downhill.  My top speed of 39.4 saw me dropping behind the other two.  Actually, I thought my computer had gone wacko, in that it felt more like 29 mph.  Anyhow, I pushed my pace but couldn't bring them back.  On the other hand, they didn't disappear.  It was more like 20-50 yards most times, 100 yards occasionally.
     We regrouped in Volente, at the turn onto Lime Creek.  The short climb once again had me falling back.  But this time I caught up and stayed with them.  It is about six miles of fun before the Three Sisters. We rolled up and down, taking banked, blind curves on the outside because oncoming cars and trucks have been known to slide over the middle line.  This is, after-all, a narrow two-lane road without shoulders.    I have never recognized where the climb starts until I get to it.  Jerome was leading when I heard his expletive as he shifted down and dropped his chain.  Bummer!  I moved to the middle chainring and started shifting down (or, up if you are referring to the cogs and not the gears.  So confusing).  I categorize this as three and a half tiers because invariably I think I've done three and then see the really steep part (my Strava has this at 19.6%).  I have two gears left and use one of them and reel myself up.  No rest for the weary.  Off we go for another two miles of mostly flat or slightly down until we reach the convenience store at Anderson Mill.
     I took advantage of the stop to take off my jacket.  It wasn't supposed to warm up until noon, but the sun kept peeking through the clouds and the breeze wasn't near as cold as yesterday and now at my back.  Anderson Mill is mostly flat until it drops down then climbs (10% grade) up to RR 620.  Once again, I dropped back on the downhill and lost even more on the uphill.  But not so much as to miss the green light.  The rest of the ride was uneventful and flat, other than catching another group of riders, and Dinh almost having a disaster when hitting a board in the road.
     I need to do this ride more often but won't do it solo.  Hopefully, my friends will alert me when they want to do it so I can join in.

Monday, November 27, 2017

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!

     As Professor Moody would exclaim: Constant Vigilance!!  It pertains to working on your bike in addition to warding off curses.  As a matter of fact, a recent lapse of vigilance has caused a few curses to escape my lips.
     If you've been keeping up (something I haven't been doing lately, judging by the date of my last post), in an effort to improve and expand my cycling repertoire, I engaged a coach.  Well, every so often, Coach Owen has me do a strength test to check my progress.  That test happened this past Saturday.  This post is not about the ride itself, however.
     The weather forecast for Saturday was ideal: cool weather, slight SW wind, brilliant sunshine.  Feeling somewhat randy, I decided to dust off my time trial bike and see how fast I could go for twenty minutes.  My venue would be Chandler Road which has great asphalt, a wide shoulder, and is generally flat with 1-2% grades.  It is also long enough to go twenty minutes without a stop sign or light.  My plan was to warm up heading east for thirty minutes or so, then speed back to my car. I did that.
     In order to ride my TT bike, I had to change out the left crank, which has my Stages Power Meter.  I am very careful when messing with the crank, and all went well, as did my practice.  This also puts me in my Sidi shoes.  But this was the week-end after Thanksgiving and at our house a beginning of Christmas decorating.  For Thanksgiving we had kids and grandkids (and great grandkids for that matter), so I got old bikes down and aired up the tires in case they wanted to ride the neighborhood instead of visiting with old folks.
     Coach Owen had me scheduled for just an hour of easy riding on Sunday, so I planned to go with the beginner/recovery group on their fifteen mile ride.  My HR barely tops one hundred on this ride.  I also left the TT bike in the car Saturday and began working on Christmas.  Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and staggered through my morning routine.  Pook!  The TT bike doesn't have a bottle holder, so I pulled out my racing Camelbak (kid size) and filled it with water.  For a short ride like this I didn't feel the need for Nuun or Clif Bar.
     It's a half-hour drive to Bicycle Sport Shop (Lamar).  About half-way there I uttered my first expletive.  I had glanced over to the passenger seat where the HR strap was and realized I'd left the computer at home.  Dang!  No data for today.  Well, it's only a recovery ride.
     In the parking lot at BSS I pulled out my bike and propped it up on the side of the car.  Larry had done the same and was airing up his tires.  My road bike has regular tubes, but the TT bike has latex.  For the uninitiated, latex leaks air relatively quickly, so needs to be topped off daily.  I reached into the RAV4 for my floor pump.  Another expletive.  It is still in the garage with the old bikes.  Larry was kind enough to let me use his.
     As ride leader Daniel was going through the pre-ride instructions he mentioned something new: If you have a flat and don't have a way to fix it, you might need to arrange transportation (or words to that effect).  I race time trials.  If I have a flat in a race, changing a tube isn't an option.  Ergo, I have no saddle pack with spares and tools.  And I hadn't changed out the one from the road bike.
     The ride proceeded uneventfully.  At the fifteen mile turn-around, Daniel inquired if anyone would like to extend it to twenty-five.  An additional five miles out on the bikeway.  Five of us did.  Since I wasn't working hard, the extra mileage wouldn't deplete my energy stores.  And, all went well and we returned to the shop in good order.
     So, let's recap: no computer, no saddle pack, no air pump, no energy to ingest.  All of which, had I had my head in the game would have accompanied me.  I'm thankful nothing untoward happened.  And yes, upon returning home I immediately switched out my cranks again, made sure the road bike was prepped for today's (Monday) ride, put the pump back in the car, charged the computer, put Nuun in the water bottle.  When you change your routine, you MUST BE VIGILANT to the changes.

Friday, October 20, 2017

MY FIRST ONE-LEG DRILLS


Scenario

My bike coach wants me to do two hours on the bike, one hour of easy riding, then 40 minutes of one-leg drills and 20 minutes cool down.  I have an A/C check-up at 9:00am and need to leave at noon to pick up my granddaughter at A&M.  It will be a little close, but manageable.  Forecast is for rain in the afternoon.

The Plan

I’ll ride in the neighborhood on my road bike, then hit the trainer for the drills, then back on the road bike for the cool down.  Yes, I could cool down on the trainer, but even for me, that’s a long boring time on a trainer.  A quick shower, a pb&j for lunch, and all things accomplished.

Slight Obstacles, in order of appearance

In setting up the trainer bike, I notice a lack of power data.  Dang!  Need new batteries.  Leave note for the A/C guy and book it for Batteries +.  This is at 8:40am.  Back home with batteries by 9:05, installed by 9:20.  A/C guy finishes early so I set up the trainer and get ready to ride the neighborhood on my road bike.

Time is tight, so I’m thinking maybe fifty minutes instead of sixty.  Well, thirty minutes in and it started to drizzle, then got heavier.  I was only five minutes away from home. 

Got home and changed into my old bike shoes (the ones that got me coast to coast in 2001), since my others were soaked.  It was a pretty quick change and I figured five minutes on the trainer then I’d start my drills.  I soon noticed that my cadence was all over the chart, even though I was quite stable around 75 rpm.  Pook!  Ding-fu!!  No time to delve into the problem, just change bikes.  Duh!  My road bike doesn’t have a rear quick-release that fits the trainer.  Ok, that was a quick fix.  

With the road bike set up on the trainer, I put in a few minutes of warm-up and began my drills.  They went well.  When switching legs it took longer than I wanted.  Oh, and when I pedaled the right leg, nothing registered on the computer.  Coach will have to assume it was more or less the same as the left.

Needless to say, time was short.  The twenty-minute cool down was cut to five.  Showered and out the door at 12:03.  Unfortunately, the emergency Clif Bar I keep in the car console had been consumed and not replaced.  There were a few orange slices to keep me going.

Note to coach: To keep everything separate, I turned off the computer after the warm-up, and the 1:4x was the trainer bike going wacko, and I started drills at the five-minute mark.  So there are two entries for today, one the warm-up and the other the drills.  If I do say so myself, they went well for a first day.  Myrtl and Core X will have to wait for Saturday.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik, Iceland

     Regular readers know I don't "do" water.  They also know I usually restrict my entries to cycling only.  Know now that I did not ride a bike to the Blue Lagoon.  However, this is a longer post than what I would do on Facebook, so this is the venue to express my reactions to this phenomenon.
     This is a really slick operation.  They have anticipated 99% of everyone's needs, including the totally inept and stupid tourists.  Marilane booked us with the Premium package, and we highly recommend doing this.  You get shower clogs (which are then yours), a towel and bathrobe, and a drink at the swim up bar.  I suppose for those who go regularly, this isn't needed.  You can pay through a tour company which includes the 45 minute bus ride, but we just booked through the Blue Lagoon and took a bus.  So, the experience.
     We arrived about 9:00am, some of the first.  The attendants were friendly and knowledgeable, asking if this were our first visit (duh, 98% only come here once), and explained what we were to do and got our stuff.  They give you a plastic bracelet which is encoded with your information.  You use it to open gates, lock and unlock your locker (which isn't assigned until you get to your locker room), and can also buy drinks, lunch, souvenirs etc.  Slick.
     Yes, men and women have separate rooms.  Once assigned, you strip down and head to the showers to shower before going into the pool.  Shower naked, cleaning 100% of your body.  You are advised to leave the hair conditioner in until afterwards in that the pool water can damage it.  I remembered to do that for my head.  Folks who were reluctant to take off their bathing suits or uninformed were reminded by an attendant that they couldn't enter the pool unless they did.  Nice showers, warm water, great shower gel and conditioner.
     The robe came in handy, in that Iceland is not Miami Beach.  Until you get into the water, it's chilly.  We didn't explore the whole lagoon, but the part we were in was anywhere from four to five feet deep.  So mainly we just walked around.  There was a spot where Marilane needed to tread water for a few feet.  We just milled around like the other tourists, enjoying the pool. The water is milky blue.  You can only see a few inches down.  There are lifeguards patrolling the perimeter, watching to see if anyone is having difficulties.  Little kids have floaties for their arms, if needed.
    
Then we went for the facial.  There is a kiosk (you never leave the water) with a pot of silica gel.  We spooned up some and applied to our faces, leaving it on for ten minutes.  The instructions say five to ten, but for us it felt as though it really didn't start working until about eight minutes.  There were a whole bunch of folks meandering around with white mask faces.  Then we washed it off, using water from the pool, and went back for the second mask, this one algae.  The attendant spooned it up sparingly, and this time we applied each other and left it on for another ten minutes. 
More wandering, then over to the bar for our included drinks.  Beer, wine, smoothies, juice.  I had red wine, Marilane had sparkling wine.  More wandering, other than a quick pit stop (this time I had to leave the pool and was thankful for the robe).
     After about an hour, I was ready to continue our adventure outside the pool.  As I returned to the showers, I felt mildly lightheaded.  It's a blood pressure thing, same thing happens when I take a hot bath.  And like a bath, it passed quickly enough.  Another shower and shampoo.  The changing facilities are very nice, including hair dryers.
     We had lunch in the Lava Restaurant.  It included sparkling wine.  The meal was excellent, with a great view of the lagoon.  Some folks do the pool, put on their robes, eat lunch, then return to the pool.   Again, part of the whole experience.
     The bus leaves every hour, so we had a little time to browse the souvenir shop.  This was a great day for the visit, in that it was cloudy with showers off and on.  Thanks to Marilane for the pictures.  I somehow let my iPhone run out of juice.
     If you go to Iceland, be sure to put this on your agenda, whether you like water or not.  But don't go to Iceland if spending money gets you uptight.  Things are ridiculously expensive.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

COMEUPPANCE, PART TWO (or in current day parlance: Reality Check)

     First, some history.  Several years ago I sought a coach to help me get faster.  Long story short, I didn't and returned to what I had been doing.  That, basically, was riding with the fast guys on Sunday and putting in miles during the week.  I was content to be fastest in my age group in Texas.  Well, when you are the oldest in your age group, and finishing last, you look forward to the next year when you again become the youngest.  That is 2017.  I managed to earn an invitation to Senior Games Nationals in the time trial, but not the road race.  No biggie, except for a few times when I managed to win, those were merely good 40k workouts.  But I trained a little harder for 2017 and did well in the early races (see previous posts).  My expectation for Nationals was a modest top ten.  Then I went and took silver in the 10k time trial.  The drop to 8th place in the 5k was poor judgment, not poor performance, on my part.  When I looked up the times, and also the times in the USAC Nationals a week earlier, it looked as though I could hang with those guys.  Attitude adjustment!
      But next year I wouldn't be the youngest, so I needed to be faster.  Time to give another try at being coached.  My friend Carolyn has been tearing up the roads this year (including winning Nationals), so I tried her coach.  No luck, his roster is full.  She suggested Owen, also a national gold medalist, and he accepted me.
     Owen doesn't have any old guys as clients.  Yes, a few seniors over 50, but that isn't really old.  This is going to be a two-way street in learning, in that my body can't do what a 50 year old can.  In addition to riding, he will be sending me various strength building exercises.  The first one seemed simple enough: ten 30 second core exercises.  No problem, I've been doing planks and push-ups for several years now.  At Gold's Gym Body Flow, Shawna would remind us that "core" is more than abs.  I now know how very weak my lower back is.  So embarrassing (even though no one saw me), however I confessed to the coach.
     Then there were the push-ups.  Easy enough: three sets of three.  I've been doing eights sets of twenty-plus and a final of sixty or seventy.  The kicker is clapping your hands as you push up.  When a young man, I could show off, clapping twice.  Try as I might, gravity got me first.  I blamed it on trying it after riding (I really know better than do any strength exercises after riding).  But this morning, fresh, I still couldn't do it.  Actually, I did manage it once, but hitting two arthritic thumbs together brought a whole new set of pain.  I'll still work on it, but this exercise might have to be adjusted.
     This morning I had a set of lunges to do before straddling the bike.  Easy enough, I've been doing lunges this past year also.  Well, these were a measly five sets of five (each leg).  But not just forward/back.  The second set was forward/twist upper body.  Looked easy enough on video.  Might have to work on balance.  The third set was sideways.  I've been doing yoga, no sweat.  Oooh!  I thought my hips could go wider than that.  The forth set was three-quarters back.  I need to revisit the video.  The last set was a backward lunge.  Ok, no problem there.  But my knees weren't happy, as I got on the bike to warm up.
     My power meter has been ordered, so until then we are going with heart-rate and cadence.  Three sets of five minutes at 100-110 rpm in zone three.  My practice this year was thirty seconds at 100+, three sets.  So I was elated to complete the three sets as requested, other than a turn-around.  I did exceed the heart rate for a short time as I concentrated on the cadence and didn't shift appropriately.  I'm hoping the legs work tomorrow.  I've had the heating pad on my low back for the last hour.
     Just two days into being coached and two weaknesses have been exposed.  Fortunately, I have six months before racing again.  And tomorrow is a day off.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

COMEUPPANCE 2017

     So, we left Georgia on Thursday and arrived home on Friday.  This was a squirrel-ly vacation so it took awhile to get the house squared away.  However, I arrived at the Bicycle Sport Shop Sunday ride on time, with bike and accoutrement intact.  Due to a granddaughter softball commitment later, besides not really liking the Buda ride, I opted for the beginner/recovery ride.  Just as well.  We noodled along to the turn-around, then several of us went further.  Five miles out I said good-bye to my companions and returned to the shop at a reasonable speed.  This was a good recovery ride.
     I planned to do the somewhat faster Monday night ride, but it was cancelled.  The universe interfered with cycling and I logged zero miles during the week, plus a strained back muscle which kept me pretty much immobile for a few days.  Anyhow, things were sorted out by the weekend and I prepared for the really nice NW Hills ride.  I like this ride, in either direction.  My recent mountain retreat should stand me in good stead for the climbing.
     Ten of us left BSS and for about thirty seconds all was good.  I drifted to the back and felt like the hammer had been put down from the start.  Then I looked at the measly sixteen/seventeen number on my computer.  Flat ground.  Ah well, the legs are tight and will respond better once they are warmed up.  Half an hour later reality set in.  I skipped the Great Northern sprint and met them as they came back to Shoal Creek and informed Chris (the leader) that I'd be turning around.
     I cruised back down Shoal Creek at fourteen mph, waiting for the HR to drop to an acceptable level.  Well, going out I was about twenty beats high and coming back it was still ten beats high.  Pook, ding-fu!  To add insult to injury, I had a door open on me.  This hasn't happened in years.  Fortunately I was paying attention and there weren't any cars behind me.  The GoPro was mounted on the seat post so I only have the rear shot.  I didn't give the occupant a wave.  Later on I almost got squirrel-ed.  Other than that the return was uneventful, but the HR remained high.
     Back at BSS, I spread out my mat and stretched, being interrupted by a rider who inquired if I had a pump.  I carry my floor pump in the car so was able to assist before returning to stretching.  LJ and Andy returned, with one other rider from the beginner ride.  The others went for additional mileage.  I loaded up and came home.
     I rode Monday and today at Old Settlers Park.  HR was back to normal as I cruised for an hour at sixteen mph.  But the legs might take a few more easy rides before they get their strength back.  That's what I'm blaming it on, the mountains.  They ate my muscles.  You are welcome to your opinion, I'm sticking with this one.  I have no more races for a few months, so I'm back into building mode.