Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Perhaps purists will take umbrage with the description. But, alas, today I found myself cycling to spin class. Even the receptionist made a comment. However, they were nice enough to let me bring my $10,000 bike inside.
This whole scenario was a series of oopsies on my part. It actually stems from 1) Being retired, thus not caring what day of the week it is; and 2) The Christmas Season, further exacerbating not knowing what day it is. By way of explanation, of sorts, I'll first state that Friday the spin class is 8:45am which puts me back home (driving) at 9:45am. This is what was on my mind when I saw that Marilane needed the car at 10am today. No problem.
Unfortunately, Wednesday's spin class is at noon. And double pook! Ding-fu, I also forgot a 10am appointment. Again, not a problem, the appointment location is only a few blocks from the gym, and both ony about 2.5 miles from the house. Yesterday's 84 degrees is but a memory, with 55 and a cold north wind. Uncomfortable, but for only 12-13 minutes. I have done it in the past on my old bike, locking it to the fence (my first appt. place).
Ah, the old bike. It has old pedals. Spin class bikes have Shimano SPD's. I have SPD's. They are on my custom titanium, never-let-out-of-your-sight bike. I rode it to the appt and locked it to the fence. No problem.
Then, as I mounted to pedal the few minutes to Gold's, it occurred to me that I had forgotten my Gold's ID, attached to my key chain because I couldn't fathom going to the gym in anything other than my car. Ride back home, get the key, take a few deep breaths, get back on the bike and ride back to spin class.
My bike and gear were safely watched over while I had an excellent spin class. All is back being right with the world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Two separate subjects connected tenuously by my weekend cycling. First, the early warning signs. Saturday, after three hard days of workouts, I felt grumpy. We might say out-of-sorts, but definitely low on energy. Now, this can be caused by lots of things, but my second clue was when I went outside. Even though I had on a sweatshirt, the 55 degrees, sunshine, slight breeze felt cold. Past experience has shown that when my body cannot quickly adjust to a chilly temperature, then quick corrective action must be taken to stave off illness.
Within minutes of returning inside, I had taken 1000mg vitamin C and started brewing ginger tea. In addition, I used my Neti pot, then gargled with salt and soda. Those are my usual responses. The other response is inactivity (otherwise known as resting). BTW, I had gone outside to get a feel for the weather so as to pick out the proper cycling gear for the afternoon ride. Needless to say, as I reclined I could see a perfect cycling day slipping away. However, better give up a day than to get sick.
Can't say whether or not I was really getting sick or just needed to rest, but in any case, Sunday morning came and I was ready to ride my usual route. I delayed two hours to allow the temperature to rise from 30 to 39 (when I left the house, 46 at my start place). And this brings me to layering.
A healthy body has no problem keeping warm, given proper clothing. Today I had on a long sleeve base layer (REI), jersey, and my wind jacket (plus tights and long fingered gloves). The wind was out of the south, stronger than yesterday, so I was in for an hour with it in my face. The wind jacket I intended to shed when I made my turn to the west. But, and I stress, you have to know when to divest excess layers. After four hills, only 35 minutes of riding, I could feel the moisture finally beginning to build. As much as it pained me to do so, I pulled over on an uphill and removed the jacket. If you don't remove the layer early, you will be stuck wearing it because you don't dare take it off when the other two layers are soaked.
In the two hours, forty minutes of riding, the temperature only got up to 56F, so the tights stayed on. I had regular gloves, but kept the long-fingered ones on for the whole ride. They kept my hands nicely warm for the first two hours, and were not a problem for the last part. Had my hands been sweating, I would have exchanged them.
Summing up: yesterday's rest and ministrations combined with good clothing selection resulted in a fine ride today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I missed my 31 miler on Thursday because the wind (again) was atrocious. To make up for it, I planned a ride this morning, even though I usually leave the roads to the cars on Saturday. According to the weather forecast, we have a cold front blowing through this afternoon, thus 20+mph cold, northwest winds. I tried to get out at 8:30am and made it by 8:45am.
As I eased my way into the ride I could tell the wind came out of the southwest, a bit stronger than what I saw at home. This was good, because except for a short stretch, my route went east and north, then back east. My first check-point (the school where Marilane subs on occasion) was reached in record time. Once on University, the road is straight east and the wind was now directly at my back.
The turnaround came seven minutes faster than average. But, of course, on an out-and-back course, if you have the wind at your back going out, it will be in your face coming home. It wasn't more than two miles of laboring, aerobars heavily in play, that I noticed a slight movement of the wind to the north. Another mile brought some more shift. Instead of in my face, it came from my right. Before long I made the left turn and again had the wind at my back.
I'm guessing that in the last ten years, having the wind both ways has happened twice. Considering I wasn't even going to ride, I can only take this as a sign. About the only sign I can think of wanting at the moment is the lottery (world peace being a bit too heavy for this little bit of luck). Check back tomorrow, I'll post it if we won.
And for my friends in the UK, the temperature was 13C and I had on tights and two layers on my chest. They keep promising cold weather, I guess it just went your way. Sorry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I had to pass up a few good cycling days in order to get the house decorated for the holidays. But, cycling in December is always hit-or-miss. I have attended spin classes once a week. I may have to go twice this week because today's didn't go too well. I don't know why I even go the day after my hill workout. I know the quads will fail to respond properly. Speaking of the hill ride...
Yesterday I flipped the coin between 31 miles of flat/rolling and 19 miles of hill workout. Hills won. I left the house around 9:30am. The temperature read 46F and the attic fan on my neighbor's house was whirring briskly so I tossed my wind-jacket (a Hotter'n Hell with mesh back gifted to me by my friend, Ray, several years ago) in the car. Regular readers will recall several posts ago I was pleasantly surprised when getting to the starting point that the temperature there was 15 degrees warmer than at home. I couldn't hope for that again, but 10 degrees kept floating through my mind.
Ah, the luck of the Irish: all I got was a 3 degree bump. 49 degrees at 10am with a brisk southerly wind. On went the wind jacket, giving me 3 layers on my chest. Needless to say, I had on tights. The southerly wind meant 30 minutes (in this case, 32 minutes) against the wind, but it would be at my back going up Courtyard (16, 16, 24 degrees), Jester (16, 20), and Bluegrass (16, 18).
All the while my mind kept telling me how uncomfortable I was. But my body was nicely warm and secure and really felt no discomfort at all, and the pedaling went quite well. The trip took about five minutes longer than usual, but all-in-all a fine excursion.
I believe tomorrow will be the 31 miler and Friday back to my regular spin class.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Last Friday I started back in spin class. Even though the weather has not as yet become unbearable, the holidays are demanding more of my riding time and in order to keep some semblance of regularity, spin class will be part of my activities for the next few months. Please don't read this and feel I have an attitude about them. Actually, except for the loud music, I enjoy going; they are an excellent exercise and several years ago were the main reason I did well in the early season races. Plus, the thrifty part of me likes getting more reps at the gym, thus getting my money's worth.

I got out earlier this week for what was supposed to be a 50 mile ride, but came up 10 miles short. Once again I relied on the previous night's weather forecast. They hit the temperature ok, but the 5-10mph nw wind turned into 20+ generally from the west. My mostly north-south route only gave minor relief going north, but by the time I turned around, the wind had become quite strong. The aerobars were of no significant use since the wind came from the side. It was all I could do to hang onto the bars and keep the bike upright. Fortunately, there were very few vehicles on the road, so when the occasional gust blew me several feet sideways, I had the room. After fighting this for 15 miles I gave up and called for a sag wagon. Marilane was out and about and had urged me to call if I wanted. As it turned out, she was only 10 minutes away.

The other reason I called for relief is that we had rum-ball making on our afternoon-evening agenda and I couldn't afford to be as beat up as the previous week. While not allowed to mix the ingredients, I did 2/3 of the ball rolling. This turned out to be 840 rum balls. A few balls are not strenuous, but I assure you that my back (not sure if it was the lats or teres major) muscles were screaming after the first hundred.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This was my motto when training/running marathons. It wasn't unique to me, got it from Joe Henderson at Runner's World. Anyway, this last Monday the sun shone in a cloudless sky and the temperature at 9:15am read 55 degrees with a promise of upper 60's by early afternoon. My Sunday 360 ride had been strenuous and this looked like a perfect time for a nice recovery ride and an opportunity to increase my mileage base.

It wasn't until a half hour into the ride that I noticed the slight wind at my back had increased as the sun rose. The planned ride went to Walburg, a straight north route which meant 25 miles of wind mostly at my back followed by 25 miles of right into my face. My recovery ride now morphed into something more like hard work. The cycling to Walburg obviously went well, pedaling in a higher than normal gear and an easy cadence. Quite enjoyable. Once there, I stopped for a Clif Bar and to take stock of the situation.

I much prefer a circular route to an out-and-back, so while munching the energy bar, decided to head east about a mile and take an alternate road south until I picked up University (Chandler Road). My mental calculation added five miles, but as the calendar was clear, the additional minutes posed no problem. Besides, as Barry would say, the trees would provide a modicum (he wouldn't use that word) of protection from the wind.

It took an hour and a half to Walburg, two and a half to return home. My mantra: "become one with the wind." That sorta worked, in that I really didn't fight it like I normally do, stayed in a low gear, and had a mid-route energy stop. Total mileage came in at 56 miles. The wind really did a number on me and I was beat for the rest of the afternoon, utilizing the recliner to the fullest extent.

In posting the stats on my spreadsheet, I looked up the last time I had ridden over 50 miles. Not counting the vacation trips of Natchez Trace and E2E, my last 50-miler occurred May 11, 2009. As Mad-Eye Moody would proclaim: CONSTANT VIGILANCE! I need to get back to once-a-week lsd rides.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Not me, I'm just recounting what I saw. First, refer to the September 25th entry about changing flats, then go to action #7. Perhaps when reading it you feel as though I'm being much too basic. There was a reason I used that wording.
Several years ago, also posted but not worth going back to read, I was on a group ride with some friends and a bunch of strangers. One of the folks got a flat, and as cyclists do, we all stopped for him to change tubes. But, when you are with folks, there is a bit of peer pressure to perform well, and this includes changing out a tube. Here is one guy, apparently not all that well versed in efficient flat fixing, surrounded by 15 or so others who he thinks all know more than he does, and rather than accept help tried to bluster his way to the finish.
But his cover quickly blew away when he tried to install the tube around the rim, then attach the tire. At first we all thought this to be a new technique for checking the tube or something. Truly, he knew how to fix a flat. He just lost focus and became flustered with so many eyes watching his every move. No one really wants to practice changing a tube on the side of the road, but it wouldn't hurt to read through the steps enough times so you don't have to think about what to do next.
On a different note: The aerobars are back on the bike, I've changed out the pedals so I can revert to my SPDs, re-installed the bottle holders and my saddle pack. I think we are finally out of warm weather, so afternoon riding will be the norm.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Following the debacle at Fort Hood (racing, not shooting), I felt more than a little concern about this week-end's Senior Games Championships. Even with concentrated workouts, while the legs felt strong, they really weren't sympatico with the pedals. As I drove to Houston (Fulshear, really), a smidgen of doubt crawled through my consciousness, but I beat it back.

What I really didn't like was the 40 degree temperature on Saturday morning. My first race, the 5k time-trial, went off at 9:25am. This means getting to Fulshear around 8am, checking in and getting my packet, getting squared away, and riding for about a half-hour or more to warm up. Since we are still waiting for daylight savings time to go away, the sun was barely above the horizon at 8am. Granted, it would warm up to the low 80's in the afternoon, but to give me as much warmth as possible, I put off riding until almost 8:30.

I had on my tights and jacket and cut the warm-up ride to 20 minutes. Still, I can't tell you my heart rate because my skin had no moisture to make the connection between the strap and computer. After the warm-up, I jumped on the stationary trainer to see about jump-starting the heart rate. That is a useless endeavor; I have never been able to get over 90% of max on the trainer. And, I mis-read the clock, and showed up at the start line, a few blocks from the parking lot, about 10 minutes too early, meaning I had to ride around in the side street, keeping my legs loose. By this time, the sun was nicely warming us and I had shed the tights and jacket.

Unlike last year, almost 90% of my time was in the 90% heart rate range. My average speed was 23.2 and the max was 25.2. This course is almost dead flat. I missed silver by less than 3 seconds and about 20 out of first. Perhaps dropping one gear lower might have netted me silver, but that's water over the dam.

The course is point-to-point, meaning I cooled down for the 5k back to the start line. I had an hour before the start of the 10k. Most of the time, I coughed a lot, ate an energy bar, drank an energy drink, and talked to the other guys about cycling. I also jumped on the trainer to keep the legs loose, then went back to the start line.

Again, point-to-point on a generally flat course. Same course, just keep going. Like last year, my average speed of 24.9 exceeded that of the 5k, and I felt quite comfortable. Unfortunately, I must have been a gear short, because gold wasn't very close (like 11 seconds). I felt bad that I couldn't successfully defend my gold medal standing.

After changing into more comfortable clothes, I drove the 20k course (40k would be two loops) to get a feel for it. Well, duh, it was the same one as last year except in reverse. After that, it was back to the motel to rest and eat. Watched Oregon run over Southern Cal.

Again, had a 9:10am start time. This time, however, even though the temperature was about 10 degrees warmer, I went down to the fitness room and jumped on the stationary bike for about 20 minutes. Can't say about the heart rate because the machine thought it was around 72, but I broke a sweat for about 10 minutes of the 20 minute warm-up, and stretched nicely afterwards. Showered, got dressed, and drove to the start about 8:15am. Again, I set up the trainer to keep the legs loose and otherwise make final preparations.

A slight aside: I had forgotten that my computer mount was placed on the aerobars of the road bike. When I took them off, I found I had no mount for the computer, thus the computer was turned on and put in my back pocket. I had no electronic feedback during the race, which is just as well.

I learned Saturday that several of the fast guys (those who usually medal) would be foregoing the 40k in order to attend a different cycling event. However, Tom Hall gave me a sage piece of advice: stay within the first five or six because the accelerations out of the corners could leave you gapped.

We started with the 60-64 age group, and I dutifully took up position behind Wally (because he is a big guy and blocks a lot of wind). Of course, riders changed positions as we wended our way around the course, but I generally kept between 3rd and 5th. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of time in heart rate zone 3 (cruising effort), due to drafting. On the second loop the speed picked up a bit and on one corner I got boxed out and in manuevering to avoid a crash felt my right calf try to cramp. Fortunately it was not one of the corners requiring a heavy push, so I relaxed for the next minute or two and it returned to normal.

I occasionally checked my mirrors but all I could see was some big guy (Monteith) and had no idea how many were behind him. As it turned out, the accelerations out the many turns had taken their toll on many, so when it came to the last sprint, there weren't more than six or eight.
Even though I'm a novice at racing, I pretty much know what I can do. Given my protected position, and no time in zone 5 (until the final sprint), I felt good, and as the finish line approached, I selected a high gear that I could handle when I stood on the pedals. The rpm's increased and Wally and Monteith passed on the left and I followed Wally's rear wheel. As it turned out, Wally had jumped too soon and my acceleration allowed me to come around him just before the finish line. Monteith was in the 60-64 age group. Average speed for 28.2 miles was 22.3mph.

Thus, I finished first in my age group and second in the combined group. I have now qualified for Nationals next June. All I have to do is get about a minute faster in the time-trials.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I had some spare time this afternoon, so pulled the bike off the hooks in order to tighten the aerobar (returned after the ill-fated race on the 10th) pads. Once again, the lack of bounce in the back tire clued me in that, once again, I had fortunately returned home before the tube lost all its air. My Sunday ride is an excellent workout and fun riding, but it cost me a handful of tubes. First act was to jump in the car and pick up three new tubes at the bike shop.
Next came the tire inspection. Oh, oh! A good-size slit in the bottom of the tire. I marked the spot and proceeded to remove the tube. Then I inspected the inside of the tire, only to find out that the slit didn't go all the way through. Back to the drawing board with the tube, otherwise known as submerging it in the sink (changing tubes at home is much more relaxed than on the road). The air bubbles tattled on the hole. But wait! What is that in the hole, a small piece of wire. Now I held the tube up to the tire to locate approximately where in the tire this tiny assassin infiltrated. Pook! Ding-fu!! I was looking at a piece of duct tape. Surely I didn't miss that wire when I inspected this the last time. I refuse to entertain that thought and will go with this being a mere coincidence.
A short history: Every February or March I buy a set of tires, changing out the old ones. I don't keep track of mileage. The old ones I put on my trainer bike or just hang up for emergencies. But now I have a decision: continue with the duct-taped, slitted, tire or get an old one from the hook. Upon examination of the wear indicators, I see that last year's tires still have a lot of wear left; not as much as this year's, but without a slit or duct tape. Easy, put the older tire on.
I may have to get tires earlier this time, maybe Santa will throw a set down the chimney.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


While my mind assured the rest of the body it only had a bad day, I immediately resumed workouts at Gold's twice a week. Within two sessions most of my exercises returned to previous levels, however several were glaringly weak. I had a massage. My practice rides felt great!
On my hill circuit, Courtyard didn't leave me breathless and Jester didn't take all of my gears. On the longer rides, the times were excellent and I had energy to spare at the end. My last tt practice was only a few seconds off my PB. Confidence level is high as I top off in preparation for Senior Games State Championships at the end of the month.
Check back to see if mind and body came together and if good results followed.

Monday, October 11, 2010


In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned that for me to be in racing shape, I should put in around 750 to 800 miles per month. This is a fact, proven. Now, I can get away with less miles, if they are "quality" training, for short time-trials because 1) They are short duration and 2) They don't require (usually) all of your leg muscles.
Even placing second in the State Time Trials and feeling strong in doing so, was only ground-work for actual racing. Unfortunately, we had a vacation followed by a hurricane, and my mileage went south. The upshot of this is I have put in about half the necessary mileage leading up to yesterday's race. Knowing this, I moved into fantasy-mode.
The race course, I thought, was extremely fair, if tough. There are around ten climbs in 30 miles, with about a two mile incline to the finish. The first 16 miles have two tough climbs and several lesser ones. When I practiced the course several weeks ago, there was a moderate north wind and it took 1:59 to complete. The wind was in my face for the first 16 miles.
I knew I was in trouble even as I drove to Ft. Hood. There was no energy, no spark. I knew I was in deep doo-doo when I opened the car door and the wind almost whipped the door out of my hand. My warm-up went well and I arrived at the start line ready to go. The wind would be from behind for the first part.
One of the tactics in racing is to lead out strong to put those who didn't train well under stress as soon as possible. I didn't think I was stressed, as I moved into the big ring and easily kept within the 20 man group. The first four miles are more or less downhill, with the wind from the right rear. We cruised around 36mph, hitting over 40 once. The first climb came and I didn't think I had a problem until everybody moved away from me toward the top. Oops. It took about a mile to catch back on, and once again cruising comfortably. A few miles later and the steep hill took its toll on me. I had no oomph.
I managed to keep them in sight until just before the turn. When that came, the wind was in my face and without anyone to help block it, my speed dropped a bunch. I had 13 miles and several 12% grades to get over before the 3 miles with the wind at my back at the end. The group that started 15 minutes behind us passed me at around the 20 mile mark, and stragglers from that group continued to pass as I labored on. I managed to make the turn, get the wind at my back, and even uphill, held around 20mph to the finish. My racing time was about 40 seconds slower than when I was practicing.
Another interesting fact: on the practice run, where I was just cruising and previewing the course, my heart rate was 137, but race day 147. All that time in zone 4 and 5 did nothing to improve my time. Of course, the wind was a contributing factor.
I really didn't think I would come in last of 20. Actually, I could have raced to not be last, in that one other person in our group was with me for the last couple miles. However, I refuse to race just to be second from last. He beat me by three seconds.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I have a "soft" rule (i.e. flexible): under 65 degrees, cover the knees. I read it in a bike mag about 20 years ago. 65 is the starting point, and I'll drop lower if the sun is out and the wind light or out of the south. Really, the knees don't have any fat to protect them and get pretty cranky if they get cold. Sunday (the ride with the flat) I saw 61 degrees when I started before sun-up and 61 degrees when I finished three hours later. The light wind out of the north brought a cool front. Still, while the rest of the body reported in as quite comfortable, at around 35 miles my right calf started complaining. I don't think lack of tights caused the problem.
Yesterday my morning started at 55 degrees with a brisk east wind, so I pulled on the tights for the first time in months. Actually, the forecasted wind out of the east had moved to the south when I left the neighborhoods for the open road. Bummer! This ride goes mainly east-west, so I had a side-wind both directions (and, still under 60 degrees when I finished).
Two layers on my chest and the tights over my shorts gave me a comfortable two hour workout.
I have appropriate clothing for most cycling weather. I love it when I pick the right combination!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I've gone for years without suffering a flat while out riding. This isn't one of them. Once again, an errant staple eluded the tire-tuffy and found my tube. Only 30 minutes into what until then was a fabulous ride, the first thought that came to mind was, well, follow the procedure you wrote about last week.
Sure enough, the back wheel was flat. I removed the wheel, turned the bike upside down (didn't want to get my brand new chain dirty), found a nice rock to sit on, and went through the procedure. I reached for the chalk, and found none. No problem, I was among limestone, and picked up a piece for marking. The staple still stuck in the tire, so locating the hole was easy. I reached for the duct tape and found none. No problem, used a handy dollar bill.
Pre-aired the tube, installed easily, checked the rim, began pumping.
Now, I'm using my son's mini-pump. He last used it about 20 years ago. Still works great, but you don't get much air-per-pump. My arms were weary by the time I got to what I estimate at 80 pounds. That was enough!
Everything was back together and I proceded with the ride. While the rear wheel felt a tad soft, it rolled well.
Note: I usually use an air cartridge to save time. However, I felt mellow, with no need to rush. Plus, in the back of my mind I was worried that, with so many miles ahead of me, I might get another flat, and would use it then if needed. Later today I'll retrieve my dollar and stick a small block of duct tape over the hole. When I have time, I'll patch the other tube to be used at a later date.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


My friend, Randy, at Natchez Trace Travel asked me to jot down a few tips on what to take when doing the Trace, or any other ride for that matter. He advises these will be on his website next week. While cycling this morning, it occurred to me that I had seen many riders, whom I considered experienced, flumoxed when it came to a simple tire change. In my tips, I assumed good changing abilities, but to cover myself, I'll expand on the tire/tube changing experience.

The three most common causes of flats are: 1) Tube malfunction, e.g. the stem leaks; 2) Pinch flat, caused when you hit a hole or rock and the tire momentarily allows the tube to crash against the rim, resulting in two holes that look like a snake bite; 3) Puncture, as when glass, nail or staple, or sharp rock, penetrates the tire and tube. I shan't mention operator error, when you goof up when installing the tube. We will assume this was done correctly.
If you are going on a long ride, like the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace, put new tubes in before you go, practically eliminating cause #1. Keep your tires properly inflated, thus minimizing cause #2. Use a product like Tire Tuffy, minimizing cause #3.

But, things happen. Let's assume you are cycling along (not racing) and a flat occurs. Here is what you do:
1. Find a safe and comfortable place (as best you can) to work.
2. Remove the wheel (we all hope it is the front but it usually is the rear).
3. Remove and arrange your tire changing tools and the spare tube (I use new tubes on the road, patched at home, as this cuts down on the frustration of a installing a defective tube and having to start over).
4. Before doing anything else, inspect the tire to determine the source of the flat. If found, mark the spot with the chalk you carry in your saddle pack.
5. Release one side of the tire, pull out the tube, again marking the tube at the site of the puncture before completely removing it. (I'm assuming knowledge of tire lever usage)
6. Run your fingers (slowly) around the inside of the tire, with special attention to the chalked area, to find the pin, glass etc. that caused the puncture. You may have to remove the tire completely and turn it inside-out in order to find and remove the offending object. I saw one person go through 3 tubes before an experienced traveler interceded and found the glass. Don't skip this step, even if you removed the nail (for instance) from the outside. It is an opportunity to inspect the whole tire. Once satisfied all is clean, move to the next step.
7. Blow a little air into the tube, enough to give it a round shape (maybe 10 pounds). This makes it easier to move out of the way when re-installing the tire. Be sure one side of the tire is already in place before putting in the tube.
8. Be very careful not to catch a piece of the tube with the tire lever when putting on the tire. This will cause a pinch-flat before you even get started. That is also why you put some air in the tire first.
9. After the tire is re-installed, with hands about 3 inches apart, pinch the tire away from the rim, visually making sure the tube didn't sneak out under the tire bead, all the way round the tire. This only takes about 30 seconds and is very important.
10. Air up the tire half-way. Inspect again for bulges or the tube not being inside the tire.
11. Air it up completely. You are finished, except for cleaning up and putting the wheel back on.

Forcing yourself to take the time to go through all the steps will result in much less frustration and only adds a few minutes to the whole operation.

Occasionally you will receive a gaping hole in the tire, usually a nail or staple. Simply installing a new tube is inadequate, in that when inflated, it will push through the hole in the tire. I carry a 3 inch section of old tire (called a boot) in my saddle pack, and put this over the hole between the tire and tube. This works quite well, especially when the hole is in the sidewall, although each revolution of the tire produces a slight (annoying) bump. I also carry some duct tape and a small section of this over the inside of the tire also works well. In an emergency, paper currency will work, as will a mylar candy wrapper.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


As in dead legs. Yesterday I had my first time trial practice since the State Championships. It went as expected, my times were slow, my intensity zero. Today I intended to get in a 50 mile cruise, just to increase mileage. However, with last night's rain on top of last week's flood, I opted for my safe 31 mile route, the one that didn't include low-water crossings that probably were still under water.
For the first 13 miles I kept looking at my cogs, wondering how I could be so high on the ring. I had no energy, the legs were totally dead. I started out pedaling under 70 rpm and it didn't get much better for the first half hour. Breathing was labored. This was the pits!
I soldiered on and at the 13 mile mark, two miles or so from turn-around, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted. I checked to be sure the wind hadn't shifted (it hadn't), and saw that I now was effortlessly at 85 rpm in the middle of my cogs.
At the turn-around, the slight wind now came from behind my right shoulder. I hoped for having it flat on my back, but that was not to be. I even managed to move to the big ring for most of the return trip.
In the end, my time was average. That's good, considering the first half. I stretched and relaxed but although everything loosened up nicely, the legs were not happy. Well, tomorrow is Sunday and we shall see if they can get me around the 360 course.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Rather, farewell to arm holders, aka aerobars. Following today's ride (which was windy and I was grateful for the use of them), the aerobars on my road bike will be retired for the rest of the season.
In a frivolous moment, I signed up for the State Road Race Championships to be held next month. Aerobars are not allowed, thus I need to have my body ready to race 33 miles without them. Last October I did the Senior Games 40k race, so I know what to expect. Which is why I need to get a few long rides in without my resting place.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Pook! Ding-fu!! I knew I was fast Sunday. For the first hour. Then it was average, then labored. The more I contemplated the ride, the more I questioned how good it was. My Garmin threw me a curve. On the downhill leading to 360, it turned itself off. While I immediately turned it back on and made sure it was recording, because it wasn't showing time and mileage, I didn't know if it reset at zero. When I checked all the data, the mileage was correct, thus I accepted the other data.
But, as the old saw goes: if it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. I double-checked the graphs, and there was an absence of the first two climbs, and the downhill. Apparently, some of the data continued, but the time reset itself.
It was a hard workout, discounting the data. We just have to erase the PB designation for the first half.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Saturday I finally got on the bike and did my 31 mile ride, with a few detours due to flooding in the neighborhood. The intent was an easy, get-acquainted-with-the bike-again type ride. However, I kept the cadence as high as I could and the body responded exactly how I expected it to given the length of time sans exercise. The surprise was my neck and triceps were the most sore.
Sunday is the 360 ride and with a looming 33 mile State Championships, I wanted to give myself a good workout. Thus, rather than meandering along for the first eight minutes, I cranked up the revolutions and attacked. Perhaps attack is too strong, but it was quick. The computer read-out just gave speed, cadence, and heart-rate, not minutes and miles, and in the past I didn't look at the speed going up hills (it's so depressing to see single digits).
Realizing I didn't have complete real-time info, I hit the "lap" button so that the first half info wouldn't be swallowed up by the second half morass. My body was rebelling at current energy levels and even only half-way, the quads had lost their punch, and in another 15 minutes, I would face the tri-level dam-Steiner Ranch climb.
Well, I kept a decent cadence, having to resort to the small chain-ring, and made all three climbs and kept a fair speed on my way to Anderson Mill Rd. Turning onto Anderson Mill proved the last straw for my left hamstring. I tried letting it hang and just use my right leg, but the right quad then cramped. Ok, I gave up and stopped, propped the bike against a telephone pole and sat down, gingerly, to let the protesting parts rest and recover.
It only took five minutes, maybe less, before I mounted up to ride the last couple of miles. The short rest did the trick, and I soft-pedaled to the car without incident.
Nice story, you might say, but what's the point? Ah! The first half of the ride turned out to be 13 minutes faster than my previous best. This included nine tough hills, so, cramps in the second half notwithstanding, I'm pretty pleased at the result.
PS, I have changed the computer read-out to show time and mileage also (I really like my Garmin 305). Immediate feedback on training rides is important.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Just returned from a 10 day tour touching Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. No cycling involved. I planned to take two weeks off following the time-trial, and planned to do stretches and possibly work-out in the hotels we would be staying in.
My plans did not include staying an extra day. Who knew, six months ago when we booked the trip, that Hurricane Earl would arrive in Halifax early in the morning of our departure date? Well, Earl had lost a lot of punch by the time he got there. Lots of folks were walking around outside and none were hunched over against the wind.
We got out Sunday, arrived in Round Rock late night and awoke Monday to the news that a tropical storm had developed in the Gulf and would hit Mexico. The rain showers started, but between the sprinkles I managed to cut the yard, and at bedtime Tuesday several inches of rain showed in our rain gauge. Nice, good for the grass.
At 1:30am our neighbor woke me out of a sound sleep to advise that the water was rising fast and if we wanted to leave, they would be closing the bridge (over low-water crossing) shortly. We didn't leave, but watched the water come up the back yard, quickly passing the previous high mark. By 2:30am or so, within several feet of our patio, it stopped and started to recede. By 4am we went back to bed, and when I got up at 7am, it was almost back in the creek bed. Hermine dumped 7+ inches in my gauge, neighbors recorded more.
Other circumstances have delayed my return to cycling. I'm now thinking Saturday.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I skipped my Sunday ride yesterday and allowed my knees to lessen their whining. I also cut the grass, which had been neglected in the run-up to the competition, and a few other household chores. A lot of my down-time was spent grousing over not recognizing the lack of cadence display before my race.
The plan to increase speed this year focused on increasing my rpm. Because I could only perceive that my strokes were in the 85-90 range, I don't really know if I reached my goal. Back to the practice course and continue increasing rpm until I'm comfortable at 90-92 and wait until the Senior Games in October to see how that turns out.
Another change, in the actual races, I haven't been paying much attention to the computer, using it mostly for post-race assessment. In the future, I'll re-configure the display to make cadence prominent, and monitor and adjust during the exercise.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I participate in two sets of TT championships: USAC and Senior Games. The USAC distance is 20k, and Senior Games have 10k and 5k distances. Today the USAC championships were held in Floresville, Tx. Once again, I managed to put together a sterling performance, good enough to garner a silver medal. Since I was 50 seconds behind first place, there are no recriminations as to what I could have done to shave time.
Last October I posted remarks about how my 10k speed was faster than my 5k and how my heart-rate couldn't seem to get high enough in the 5k, due to improper warm-up. So I was very pleased with my chart today. I spent 15 seconds in zone 1; 8 seconds in each of zone 2 and 3, 9 minutes in zone 4 and 26:18 in zone 5. Average heart rate came in at 150, with a high of 158. My zone 5 starts at 150 bpm.
The course in Floresville had some hills. When I practiced it two weeks ago and again yesterday, I used my Roark and rode in the afternoon. The amount of time in the small chain-ring disturbed me, in that I try not to use it at all. This morning, without too much wind or heat (but lots of humidity), I pushed up the hills in the big ring, mostly keeping my tuck. Average speed came in at 22.7, top at 31.7.
My cadence was high, but I can't give you any data because I washed the bike. In washing the bike, the cadence counter moved and I didn't notice it. It felt like 85 rpm, except when I was in the 11 with the speed at 31 mph. I was trying to get my breath, so just eased down the hill.
Karen did a great job in getting my energy to flow as it should have. Some pooh-pooh acupuncture, however I am able to have 100% output when I receive a treatment before a race.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I'm sure this happens to other people also. I know it's my own fault, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! But that doesn't mean I have to like it. This is a continuing story, more or less picked up where we left off last week. But I must give a bit of history.
The tube on my time-trial bike was losing air, just a little at a time. These are Zipp wheels with extenders, thus you ride with the valve stems open. I figured it was the open valve stem, so rather than toss the tube, I put it in the Camelbak for a spare. This is the tube I used last week when I again had to change out and patch the tube with the wire in it. It worked well for the week, but last night when I was getting the bike ready for this morning's ride, the tire felt very low. No problem, I got out my Silca pump and aired it back up to 120 pounds.
Unfortunately, the valve grabbed the pump and wouldn't let go. The force required to extract the pump from the valve was the same amount it took to release the valve stem from the tube. Dang! This is why I air my tires the night before. Tube changing without time pressure. I secured the previous tube, now patched, and in record time had it switched out, aired up, on the bike and ready to go.
At 4:45am I dragged out of bed and downstairs to take my thyroid medication (necessary 1 hour prior to eating). Most of the time I tumble back to bed or in the recliner, but this morning I wandered out to the garage and checked the tire. Flat! That patch really didn't look right, but seemed to be holding last night. Ok, pull the bike out of the car, pull the rear wheel, pull another tube from the hook. This tube is at least a year, maybe two, old and also has a patch. But I had used it with the patch and knew it held.
Again, the tube switching went well, and I aired the tire. Around 80 pounds I heard a hissing sound and knew there were no snakes in the house. Pook, ding foo! (familiar expletive to fans of Thoroughly Modern Millie) Defective valve. It's not like I don't have new tubes. One is residing in my saddle pack, and I got it out and made another easy tube change (are you keeping track of the tubes?). Easily aired, back on the bike, back in the car.
Ah, now I have no spares in the saddle pack. Last year I purchased the correct size tube, but it is so thick it looks like a monster compared to the others. I keep it in the car in case one of my friends has a need. Reluctantly, but of necessity, this was transferred to the saddle pack.
The rest of the morning went well, the ride went well. The bike shop supplied two additional tubes. One went into the saddle pack, the other in a drawer in the garage. The thick one returned to the car for emergencies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Not quite, but close enough. Now that I'm taking Moose, shaving seconds on my best times has receded for the duration. I still push hard, just only expect average times. And I have no problem with that.
Anyhow, after the Sunday ride I hung up the bike. Monday presented an opportunity for early time trial practice, which went well. I love my tt bike. I had appointments and grass cutting on Tuesday, so that became my rest day. Wednesday morning, as I lifted the bike off the hooks, the lack of bounce from the back tire gave me the bad news. Fortunately, I had a spare half hour before beginning today's ride, so brought the offending tire into the kitchen for a leisurely tube change.
When you have an unsuspected flat, the first order of business is to visually check the outside for cuts, holes, and things sticking out. In this case, a very thin wire (like from an old wire brush) pricked my finger, telling me of its existence. I had to look hard to see it. Sure enough, it had penetrated the tire, the tire-tuffy, and the tube. Don't know where I picked it up, but at least it didn't go flat until it got home.
I've gone years without a flat, just changing tires and tubes annually, and now two weeks in a row. Bad karma. I put a patch on the tube and it now hangs in the garage, in case it's needed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


The Sunday ride went well, up until right before the big climb at the dam. Only five minutes off last week, and I had plenty of energy to launch an attack. Until a clanking noise coming from my back wheel interrupted my plans. I had caught a sharp piece of wire. Dang! Ten miles from the car with minimal (that is, non-redundant) tube changing materials.
My saddle pack has a tube, patches, tire irons, hex wrenches, and a CO2 cartridge. It also has a boot (for the uninitiated, a 3 inch section of old tire). I went ten years of carrying a boot without needing one, until last year when a companion needed it. When I have my Camelbak, that carries another tube and a frame-pump.
I walked over to a building with a curb, made myself at home, pulled out the glasses from my jersey pocket, and leisurely changed the tube, first locating the hole. The new tube and boot was inserted, and I said a short prayer that the CO2 would work properly. The last time I tried one, I blew up the device, scaring the bejabbers out of me in the process. My new one is two years old and has never been tested, but is a much simpler design. It worked well enough. Apparently when I pierced the seal, it wasn't a clean hole, and the CO2 came out very slowly.
I'm guessing the tire was up to 80 lbs, maybe only 70, but enough to roll without damage to the it. I used the brakes on the (usually) 30+mph hill, holding it to 18mph, and came around any corners slowly and without leaning, trying not to roll the tire off the rim.
The ten additional minutes (plus the 15 for tube changing) and conservative riding allowed for a long recovery, thus I spent no time cooling down when finally arriving at the car.
Once home and showered I watched Andy and Alberto do a track stand in the Pyrenees.
Moose, who has been whining at being left home, is placated. I'll be wearing my Camelbak, with additional water capacity and tube changing paraphernalia on future rides.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


After two days of hard workouts, I needed a recovery ride. My 31 mile route out to Hutto, leaving from home, provided the perfect venue to monitor heart rate and cadence. The goal: keep the heart rate under 140 (83% of max) and the rpms at 90 with an average of 85.
Of the 111 minutes (including stops for red lights and a quick bite of Clif Bar), only six minutes exceeded 140 and the highest bpm was 146 for only a few seconds. I spent a lot of time at or above 85 rpm but had some difficulty holding 90 except on the flats. Toward the end, into a stiff headwind, my energy ran low and the rpm dropped.
My average cadence came in at 82, an all-time high, with an average speed of 16.9mph, also PB for this course. The average heart rate of 126 left me feeling refreshed and without the need to recuperate (like, in the recliner) for a few hours. Of course, I was in the recliner, playing the TdF that we had DVR'd.
In time-trial practice, I recorded an average rpm of 80 for the last three workouts, with a goal of 85. So far, I've been concentrating on just getting the 20k distance in at reasonable speed and haven't dedicated any of the runs to just cadence. Maybe next week.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Time trial practice is generally once a week, or twice as I gear up for State. One of the other days I reserve for my "hill ride." This is only 19 miles and takes in the neighborhood of an hour and a half. Starting at Big Lots at Spicewood Springs and 183, I go through Barrington Oaks and eventually get on Rain Creek Parkway. About ten minutes of warm up gets me to the first climb, definitely 16% and possibly 20% but short, maybe a tenth of a mile. A mile later gets me to the second climb, definitely 13% and a start of 18-22% depending on which side of the street you take the bend. This is a longer climb, about four tenths. Twenty minutes of rolling gets me to 360 and Courtyard. From 360 it is a four tier, about six tenths of a mile climb, with ramps of 16%, 18%, 18%, and 22%. This gets me in the 98-100% of max category.
The downhill allows recuperation, which is needed because next is Jester. Around six tenths, my gps shows a lot of 16-18% numbers, and one 20%. Interestingly enough, the heart rate is a beat or two less. More downhill and rolling back on 360 gets me to Blue Grass. This climb is about three tenths, 17% with a short 20% ramp. Blue Grass takes me back to Rain Creek and the first climb, but just before the turn is another 20% short, like a tenth, hill. One more, Oak Knoll at two tenths and 13% with an 18% ramp, gets me to mostly flat ground for the two miles back to the car.
These seven double-digit climbs, not counting the half dozen 8%ers, resulted in 25 minutes in Zone 4 and 19 minutes in Zone 5. I'd like to reduce Zone 5 by about half.
Disclaimer: The numbers are from my Garmin 305, so could be off a bit. Whatever, you get the idea these are steep climbs.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Saturday the bike shop called for me to come pick up the bike. Chris informed me the bearings were all good, only needed to remove the dirt and dried grease, and re-lube. Great news. I felt pretty frisky, so I lubed the chain and switched the SPDs for Speedplay. Changing pedals allows me to wear my Sidi road shoes, and the overall weight savings is about 2 pounds (shoes and pedals). Then I announced my attempt the next morning to set a new fast time on my 360 Loop ride.
Since I've described this route in previous posts, we can skip the profile. The wind came from the southwest, giving me an hour into the wind, a half hour from the left, and an hour at my back. The smooth rolling wheels seemed a bit faster and hill climbing benefitted from the lessened weight, thus my time turning onto Bee Cave equalled non-headwind times. At the halfway point, my confidence of squeaking into a PR grew.
I topped Steiner Ranch at 2 hours and with the wind at my back sailed along in the 23-25 mph range. Going through Balcones never was easier.
Bottom line: I cut 5 minutes off my previous best. Great wheels.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


One of the things bothering me for the last couple of years has been losing speed on the downhills. New, my bike could coast faster than most when the road turned down. The last trip to Georgia finally convinced me to get the hubs overhauled. I coasted five mph slower than in previous years (as if 46mph down Hogpen Gap could be considered slow). However, no binding or noise or anything tell-tale could be detected.
I love my Rolf wheels. Nine years of riding without a moment's trouble. Not having to worry about truing a wheel (which I would do very poorly, and sometimes followed by a trip to the bike shop) is a super benefit. Rolf will overhaul his wheels if you send them to him (I know, not personally). Unfortunately, my Vector Pros were actually Trek's, and he doesn't do those (probably a contractual thing when he and Trek parted ways). I contacted Trek, who advised I needed to see a Trek Dealer, who could do it.
So, with several days of rain forecasted, I took my bike to Jack and Adams (see previous posts about my tt bike) and dropped it off. Hopefully, they will call me today to come pick it up and I will give it a tryout on my Sunday morning ride.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This is my cycling blog, so only the cycling portion of our two weeks in Suches, Georgia will be recounted. However, kids and grandkids joined us for a week of other fun. We continued our hiking of the Appalachian Trail and perhaps next year will complete the State of Georgia portion.
You will soon hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen say, sometime during the next three weeks, that the first day (of Le Tour de France) in the mountains is amajor leg adjustment even for the pros, in leaving flat or rolling hills and cycling mountains. This is very true, and even though Brasstown Bald is always the "big" objective, I always take a few days of lesser climbs before tackling it.
We again stayed at our favorite site, High Valley Resort, so on the first morning I left the cabin and within five minutes began the climb of Woody Gap (from the north, or easy side). Ten minutes later came the 5.3 mile descent and the transition over to Turner's Corner, followed by the 8 or so mile climb up Neel's Gap, a nice descent, and the 3.2 mile climb up Wolf Pen Gap. This totalled 34 miles, just shy of 4,000 feet of climb, and a good warm-up.
What I found out on this practice run is that my sinuses were not working properly, my legs took an abnormally long time to go from "rolling" to "climbing," and I used too much braking on the curves.
The next foray had Marilane drive me to the top of Jack's Gap (coincidentally the beginning of the Brasstown Bald climb), and I began with a downhill, followed by Unicoi Gap, a modest climb and great downhill, and a transition over to the Russell Scenic Highway (Hogpen Gap). This is a long, steep climb and took a lot out of me. Plus, while the downhill gave me some great speed, a lot of transition miles had to be churned out before coming to the turn to Wolf Pen Gap. The day's total came to 44.8 miles and 5344 feet of climb.
The next day I took it easy and just went up to Wolf Pen and back, 14 miles and 1602 feet of climb. The day following, still taking it easy, I did the three gaps in the other direction. Four days of riding, all of which included Wolf Pen Gap.
My next riding day took me north of Suches to Skeenah Gap. In all, 50.7 miles and 4788 feet of climb. But it was a clockwise loop, and to return to the cabin, I again came by way of Wolf Pen. By now, my descending had improved quite a bit. Two days later, the time had come to challenge Brasstown Bald.
Since it is about 25 miles away, some coordinating needed to be done. I left the cabin on my bike, up and over Wolf Pen and another five miles. Son Kurt drove the car, picked me up roadside, and drove the remaining 10 miles (up Jack's Gap) to the base. Because I had warmed up for an hour, it didn't take but a few minutes before beginning the climb.
B'town starts you off with a 16% max, 13% overall, ramp of about a quarter mile, then the steepness lessens, but rarely did I see single digits on my computer. Somewhere around a mile, the Garmin (thus the road) jumped to 18% for a short while, 16% overall, then a short respite, then "the wall" so named because it comes in around 24% (this # is open to debate). Twenty yards from topping this ramp I had to stop and let my heart rate and breathing recover. Within 90 seconds I remounted the bike and easily, if slowly, covered the distance and continued the climb. I noticed single digits and dropped a few gears for a while, but two more ramps in the teens needed attending before the parking lot came into view. Total time for 2.4 miles: 32 minutes, 20 seconds. Total time to return to the bottom: 4 minutes, 54 seconds. The wheel rims were very, very hot to the touch.
Brasstown should have been my last ride, but Kurt and Nic had a late flight, so starting at 8am Sunday I did the familiar three gap ride. Ah, but fate had just a tad excitement in store. Coming to the Wolf Pen Gap turn off of Neel's Gap, I noticed a banner on the corner indicating the Georgia Cup. Oh s**t! I was now on a bike race course!!
Hey! I had to get home and showered. I made about a mile of climbing before I saw the lead vehicle, lights flashing. About 50 yards behind was a single rider, the leader. It took another 3 or 4 minutes before the second rider came past, and another 5 minutes before a pack of five riders. By now, I only had a short way to go the top. Other riders came past, Moose waving at each but receiving no response. Moose is the stuffed animal attached to my Camelbak.
All the while, I kept tabs on riders behind, and when getting to the top and not seeing any within 100 yards (where a turn prevented further distance sighting), I plunged down the other side. Given the many times I had done this recently, I must admit, I took the curves beautifully and without braking and pedaling out of the corners. I even had to wave the car and motorcycle in front of me to speed it up. Alas, one of the earlier cyclists had a misfortune coming out of one of the turns and needed medical attention, plus having a vehicle in the road. I slowed a bit, and then could see in my mirror a real racer coming. I sat up and let him pass before again tucking and pedaling.
This was a two mile downhill and four miles of rolling before arriving at the cabin. Only one other racer passed me, but truthfully, only the ones who were out of gas were behind anyhow. Because I saw an on-time arrival when topping Neel's Gap, and actually arrived ten minutes early, I guess being on the course and scorching the downhill accounted for the whole ten minutes. My legs felt like jelly, and agreed with me.
Climbing now takes a back seat, as only six weeks away are the Texas State Time Trial Championships. Stay tuned.


For the past two weeks I've been enjoying cycling in the north Georgia mountains (to be posted later). Unfortunately, I received tragic news one afternoon: my friend, Evelyn, collapsed and died while on a ride.
This came as a real shocker. If you have been a regular reader, you know that she was a strong rider, in seemingly excellent health, making me struggle to keep up with her on my Sunday morning 360 route. Just a few days prior, we had exchanged emails, planning to ride it again when I returned home. However, she also volunteered countless hours helping people learn to ride, become better riders, led Sunday rides for several years, and actively promoted cycling whenever she could. She was a very nice person.
Her cycling friends held a commemorative ride in Austin. Not being able to attend, I did my own in Georgia. Her family held a service on Monday. I returned home on Tuesday.
So, with heavy heart I bid a solitary "adieu" to my cycling buddy. Sorry I couldn't do more.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Short background: when going to Georgia to, in addition to family fun, accost Brasstown Bald, I generally take a few days to get used to riding mountains. Going "up" for five+ miles is not the same as attacking a short hill. Therefore, my first day is usually Woody Gap, Neel's Gap, and Wolf Pen Gap. This is a 32 or so mile circuit.
Woody Gap is easy from the north, with a 5.3 mile terrific downhill. From there is a transition over to Neel's Gap. This is a 5 or so mile uphill in the neighborhood of 8%, judging from my glances at the readout of my Garmin 305. Later I will ascertain more accurate figures. Wolf Pen is about 4 miles of tighter turns and double-digit ramps. I did these two days ago.
One thing I noticed on this ride was the transition from downhill to uphill caused my quads to signal my brain "who, me"? This is very strange and has not happened before. For the whole ride, each uphill took a long time before the muscles started operating properly.
Today brought a new adventure. I had not cycled Unicoi or Hogpen Gaps. Judging from the map, I guesstimated 40 miles. Marilane accompanied me in the car to the beginning of Brasstown Bald, my departure point.
The ride began with a generally 4 mile downhill, very little pedaling. Unicoi was longer than Woody Gap, but not too difficult. The downhill had long, sweeping curves and allowed for high speeds and very little braking. A short transition to the Russell Scenic Highway, aka Hogpen Gap. This proved to be a leg-breaker. I think probably a mile longer than Neel's Gap, and steeper, as it took an hour and ten minutes of climbing, using all of my gears (including the one I saved for Brasstown Bald), and a rest stop to allow my heart to return to a reasonable level. The major downhill portion had me above 40mph for several miles, but the rest of it flattened out or rolled. My legs had no umphh left. Unfortunately, Marilane had gone shopping, a dark cloud began to form, and I had another 15 miles, including back over Wolf Pen Gap, four miles away.
I took a short break at the bottom of Wolf Pen and shifted to the easiest gear possible. Thirty-five minutes, and a short mid-climb break later, I somehow made it to the top. This side of Wolf Pen is only a few miles of descent, but is truthfully my favorite. The curves at the start are short and steeply inclined and just a whole lot of fun. These gave me the energy to make it the rest of the way to the cabin, a total of 44 miles, arriving concurrently with the rain.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


One of the reasons for my before-sunrise-departure Sunday rides is to try to take advantage of the wind. Generally, the prevailing wind is from the southeast or southwest. Generally, the wind picks up as the sun rises. My 360 route goes south, southwest, west, then northeast, with the last few miles again heading south. Ergo, for the first 50 minutes I'm into the wind and my goal is to make the turn before the sun gets too high.
Alas, this morning proved non-typical. As I drove to the start, I could see some big flags billowing straight out. Again today my start time was 6am. This route gives me about eight minutes of warm-up before the first climb. I rounded one corner and prepared to shift into the big ring and fold over the aerobars, as this is a nice flat section with a bike lane. Immediately Plan B came into play as the wind came head-on. Plan B is to scramble for a gear that I can hold at 80 rpm. Once I found the gear, I looked down to see which one and gave a startled grunt when I saw how far up the cassette I had come! Thus the term "5 gear wind" came to my mind.
I count going from middle to big ring as two gears, so today I pedaled this stretch 5 gears lower than average.
The half-way point came and I had lost seven minutes. Even with the wind behind me, I never made up the time. Great workout, enjoyed getting out, but still haven't taken advantage of the new gears.

Monday, June 7, 2010


After yesterday's ride I installed my new 11-28 cogset, replacing the 12-25. This (the 28 cog) is the final improvement toward helping achieve success at Brasstown Bald. My Sunday 360 Loop ride is amazingly consistent: 2 hours 33 minutes on good days, 2:36 average days, 2:45 on bad days. In a previous post, I hypothesized that my downhill speed needed a boost. The 11 tooth cog should rectify that. Therefore, I modified the 100% cadence focus by planning to see what speed the 11 would give me going down, without regard to cadence.
The weather forecast indicated a slight wind (5-10mph) from the south, increasing to 10-15mph in the afternoon. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the whole forecast. At 4:30am the temperature showed 83F. I expected 75F. While mentally noted, I gave it no more than a passing thought.
I left the house, in the dark, at 5:30, driving to the start place and putting wheels down at 6am. As the sky lightened, I could see there would be no sunrise to behold. Dampness enveloped me within 20 yards of starting. It wasn't foggy, but for the next 2:36 minutes I cycled in a cloud. I'm guessing the humidity hovered between 95-100%. I managed to put it in the 11 a couple of times, but with the heavy air and slight wind, never could to crank it up. Of course, I still worked on cadence (had to, actually). Try again next Sunday.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Cycling has been restricted for the past two weeks. This morning I slipped out at 7am for a quick 31 mile ride before the wind had a chance to come up. The ride is half neighborhoods and half highway with a wide shoulder and normally takes two hours. Once again I concentrated on cadence, not worrying about speed. Until last month, my average rpm surrounded 72. The last two rides I had it up to 80. Since most of the time today I was in the mid 80's and occasionally low 90's and once 102, I think 80 is about the best I can do. The route has several hills that even with gearing down, my rpm drops. Plus, the computer registers zero when I coast. Does high cadence work? I can tell you I dropped 5 minutes off the last time, and the last time was 5 minutes off my previous best. And, my knees thanked me.
But, the title is the grasshopper. I pedaled up a grade on the highway (next to a field), concentrating on my cadence. Suddenly, for no reason, my gear shifted. Further investigation revealed a small grasshopper stuck between the chain and the 19 tooth cassette ring. Really, really stuck. Stopping and changing gears moved the chain off the corpse, but removal proved difficult. I couldn't pry it off the teeth, it had impaled itself so deeply. After a few futile efforts, I moved on and by the time I had gone 12 additional miles, it had departed the cassette. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently, it jumped onto (or the space above) the chain just as it engaged the gear.
And why even bring up this trivial matter? One, because the ride itself was boring. Enjoyable to be out, but other than dodging early garage sale patrons, uneventful. And two, because sometimes stuff happens. Let it go.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As posted earlier, it is obvious that I need to be faster in the time trials if I want to be competitive. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing tt's no matter the outcome, and I really don't enjoy beating anybody. But I like having the time and trouble I put into racing provide positive results, i.e. being as fast as I can be, usually resulting in a high placing.
I THINK I can be faster if I work on a faster cadence. Don't "duh" me, of course if you pedal faster you go faster. But there is a trade-off. If you drop to a lower gear, then you need to know how much faster to pedal in order to meet or exceed the speed of the higher gear. Up until now, I was guessing.
Tomorrow I install a Garmin cadence counter on my tt bike. I have one on the road bike but it is too much trouble to keep switching back and forth. Then I'll head out to my tt practice place and do some laps at various rpms. I'm hoping: 1) My information is accurate; and 2) I can adjust my practice to achieve the improvement necessary.
For those who are not familiar with gears and rpm, visit Sheldon Brown's Calculator. Sheldon passed away last year, but his website has invaluable information.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I love cycling the Georgia mountains. Woody, Wolfpen, Neel's, and Jack's are no strangers to me. This year I intend to include Hogpen and Unicoi to complete the six gaps. Perhaps I'll return in the fall and do the famous Six Gap Century. It would be good training for Das Hugel. But the notorious Brasstown Bald is my conversation-starter. If you are not familiar, it is almost three miles of climb with several ramps of 16-18%, and the biggie at 22-24%.
My first attempts were with the standard 53-39 double. The first year I had to walk the 50 yards or so up the "wall." The second year, I had to stop to let my heart recover, but didn't have to walk. Then I moved to a compact 50-34. Last year I installed a triple, but with a 25 cog. I made it up, still needing a short lactic-acid break. Today I replaced the 30 tooth inner chain ring, with one having 28 teeth, resulting in a lower gear.
With the improving weather, I should have enough hill practice before going to Georgia that this modification will be sufficient to insure a clean climb. We shall see.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Each week the 360 loop ride presents a different challenge. Two weeks ago, strong winds from the north, last week no wind, yesterday, strong winds from the southeast. My start-time backed up to 6:20am, so traffic was less. At the halfway mark I had gained 10 minutes on the average, turned into the wind and gave it all back. Having to pedal down hills and going up to Steiner Ranch with the wind in my face resigned me to finishing with a good, hard workout but not exceptionally fast.
Training is making me stronger. Even with the wind, I didn't suffer up the climbs. But the clue I'm waiting for is when I start attacking them. The pros describe the legs as "having good sensations." Each week is better, so let's see when the legs have the energy to aggressively push the climbs.

Friday, May 7, 2010


One of the few phrases I still remember from high school French, perhaps because Sr. Mary Michael directed it at me so much.
Even though I am a firm believer in "signs" I need to be reminded occasionally. Yesterday, not wanting to feel guilty, or wimpy, I ignored the 30mph wind gust forecast and started out cycling. This was to be an abbreviated ride anyhow, because I got a late start and the heat already jumped past 80 and fast approached 90. A little looseness in my water bottle holder attracted my attention. The faux-carbon fiber had split. I bungied it together around the bottle and commenced. Ten minutes into the ride, 4 lanes, no shoulder, a cable dump eschewed changing lanes (even though he was the only one on the road) and buzzed my ear. That woke me up a bit. A mile later I had a nice shoulder, but the gusts were strong and from my right side. A panel truck left a stop sign, causing me to take an avoidance maneuver. Needing both hands on the handlebars, I couldn't give him a sign of approbation (ok, it would NOT have been approbation). However, he never saw me before or after. Approaching the toll road, a car from the right blew through a stop sign (didn't roll through, accelerated without stopping), and came quite close while looking over his shoulder at the traffic he was trying to beat. What with the wind and the drivers, I gave up and turned around. Shortly thereafter I narrowly missed a rattlesnake sunning itself on the hot asphalt.
Got home without further incident.
Windy this morning. Set up the trainer and rode in the kitchen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I've pencilled in the second week-end of November on my calendar. If unfamiliar to you, by all means, Google Hugel. I have not done it yet, but putting it on the calendar makes it more likely to happen. Generally, I do a hill-ride once a week. This ride is 19 miles, 7 climbs, and includes Rain Creek, Courtyard, Jester, and Bluegrass. So far, none of my friends have accompanied me more than once. Really don't blame them.
However, Hugel is 100+ miles and 14,000 or so feet of climbing. Fortunately, it is arranged in two loops, so you can opt out after the first one. For that matter, you can opt out anytime if you have a sag wagon and cell phone.
Last week I couldn't even attempt Jester. This week I felt stronger and slowly reeled myself up the hill. I'm sure next week will be even better. Once I no longer struggle, I'll add some additional climbs to the circuit.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Last month's bike log showed 639 miles. I had hoped for 700+ but took the last couple of days off to recover. 442 miles of the total came in the six days of riding the Natchez Trace at tourist speed. That took a lot more out of me than expected. I also had to recover mentally from again struggling to keep up with Evelyn last Sunday, and still only posting 2 hr and 55 minutes for the 42 mile, hilly ride.
Evelyn is out of town this week, so I reverted to doing the ride by myself. A brief history: I used this course to train for my coast-to-coast ride and really like it, although took a two year sabbatical when they resurfaced RR620. It has either 18 or 22 climbs, depending on what you call a climb. For instance, going from the dam to the top of Steiner Ranch is either one climb or three. Same thing for Loop 360 from the river past River Bend Church. I know that early in the year, I should expect 2hrs 45 minutes and later that should drop 10 minutes. The last two rides were 2:57 and 2:55. Given the number of miles in my legs, and the suffering done while riding, my results should have been faster.
The reason I usually do this ride solo is because my start time is 10 minutes before sunrise. Today that meant 6:30am. Not too many of my cycling friends are willing to get out this early. Unlike the high winds of last week, this morning had no wind, a few sprinkles, and 60-65 degrees. I tried to keep a high rpm and had good energy the whole way. 2 hrs, 33 min 3 sec.
Recovery worked!

Friday, April 30, 2010


It seems old folks only talk about health issues. I'm not there yet, but it takes up more and more of my conversation. You see ads on TV all the time: sudden urges to go, etc. and advocating medication to shrink your prostate. My nighttimes were showing multiple trips to the bathroom, and on morning bike rides, the number of trees I needed to visit became ridiculous. So, I cut out caffeine. And, I cut out beer and a significant amount of other alcohol (except relapsing on the recent Natchez Trace trip). The result: sleep all night and zero tree stops on my three hour ride last Sunday (and other rides, this started three months ago).
I've found that coffee in the morning is more habit than anything, so three plunges of hazelnut into Starbucks decaf worked, and I only went through three days of headache and didn't have to try to break a 40 year routine. A bonus: coffee in the afternoon, something I previously avoided at all cost.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Senior Games times are now posted, confirming what I already know: my 5k time trial preparation needs to be better. In the 5k I finished 12th of 33 riders overall. In the 10k, I finished 6th of 37 riders. Of the 37 riders, one was in my age group, so only 4 riders in the younger crowd were faster. My speed was actually faster in the 10k.
In the Natchez Trace ride, since we were tourists, my heart rate hardly ever topped 110 and a lot of times I saw it in the 85 bpm range. As a change of pace, I would drop to the largest gear and pedal along at 50 rpm.
Sunday on the 360 ride (42 miles) with Evelyn, I had to extend myself to keep up (again), and with the wind and hills, couldn't hold a high rpm, but the heart rate stayed mostly in the 130s for almost three hours.
Yesterday on my 30 mile ride in excellent weather, I concentrated on keeping high rpms. Most of the time it was 80 and higher, a lot of which exceeded 85. I finished with an average of 80, my highest ever, and my time was the fastest ever. Time is not necessarily a reflection of the ride, in that traffic and red lights come into play, but the average speed also was fastest.
Unfortunately my tt bike doesn't have a cadence counter, but I'll try a lower gear on a practice run to see what that does to the time.

Friday, April 23, 2010


This year's epic cycling adventure featured 442 miles of the Natchez Trace Scenic Byway from Natchez, Mississippi to near Nashville, Tennessee. This is a very smooth, 2-lane road without commercial traffic and a 50mph speed limit. However, motorhomes and travel trailers are allowed. I picked a south-north route because of the southern prevailing wind. As it turned out, we had a front/high pressure system come in and put a slight wind in our face for five out of the six days.

Cyclists Amy, Barry, Byran, Jerry, and Rick enjoyed excellent weather and took a zillion pictures, some of which are included here.

Somehow my precise mileage calculations had a few mistakes, leading to a long day of 88 miles rather than 81. This day also included about 30 miles of chipseal rather than the smooth surface we loved. We averaged 10mph overall (including stops) and except for the long day, finished in mid-afternoon.

Early April gave us peak wildflowers. The Dogwood and Black Locust trees were spectacular. Off the bikes, if you wandered the towns, the azaleas showed their best colors. We even managed to hit the cypress swamp right after the alligators appeared.
My suggestions: 1) Six days is just right, averaging a little over 70 per day. 2) Have a support vehicle. This allows flexibility in lodging and off-bike touring. We each took a turn driving, thus 5 days cycling. 3) Use for any and all help you need. Randy did an outstanding job in finding us lodging and giving food recommendations. 4) One caveat: this is not for inexperienced cyclists. The traffic around Tupelo and Jackson is heavy, and elsewhere the motorhomes and trailers, while mostly courteous, can come perilously close. Rick had one motorhome run him off the road and the same driver came very close to Amy (we found later when comparing notes).

I managed to cycle all six legs of the trip. Driving from the north the day before the official start, Marilane dropped me off outside Raymond and I cycled to Natchez. BTW, for that day, the prevailing wind blew in my face rather strongly.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Sad fact of life: you have to put a lot of miles "in the bank" if you want to compete well. Another truism, esoteric to Senior Games or any age-based racing: There is always a younger guy moving into your age category. So, I entered the San Antonio races hopeful but not brimming with confidence.
Saturday morning I drove the 120 miles to Texas Research Park, a great venue with good roads and no traffic. The bluebonnets were great. Warm-up went well and since this is the 6th time here, re-familiarizing myself with the course took minimal time. There is one 90+ degree turn at the bottom of a hill. The wind was up. Me and the wind do not get along.
My hope of winning went out the window when I saw Peter Leikisch. I would measure my accomplishment by holding his margin to under a minute in the 10k tt. Silver also, when a new member (Bill) moved into my category. The other guys I knew and was pretty sure I was faster.
They changed the course for the 10k: rather than twice around plus a bit, it was once around, then out and back. I liked the old way. Now we had three hills to climb and both downhills had the wind in my face. In any case, Bill started two minutes ahead of me, Peter two behind. After the first loop I saw Bill walking back, victim of a flat tire. I believe Peter beat me by 35 seconds.
The 20k race started about a half hour later. Peter skipped this one. Five laps. With this wind, once you open a gap on your competitors, it is very difficult for them to regain the pack. Me and Bill and Frank did that on the first lap, and we lost Frank on the second lap. Bill and I rotated for a lap, then he left me. Knowing I had second without a problem and no chance of first, I motored on at my own easy pace and cruised in with the silver.
Rather than stay overnight, I drove home and back the next morning. Warm-up went as well as expected, considering the drizzle and wet road conditions. No puncture this time, Bill won the 5k tt and Peter second, with me a distant third. However, I am interested in how we came in overall. I didn't hear a time faster than Bill's, so the younger guys were slower.
The 40k started an hour later. My legs couldn't respond well to any acceleration. I stayed with the pack for five laps (out of 10), then let them go. This is where the lack of training showed itself. I'll do better in the fall.
Placing nothwithstanding, I had fun. Check back in a couple of weeks to see how the fun increased.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I cannot find our copy of Connections, the book that chronicles how one thing impacted another through the centuries. But the book came to mind as I toiled through an ab workout. Some time ago, I posted advice on how I did my ab work. I can't find that either, so will repeat it in brief: During TV commercials, roll off the couch and do a specific action; sit-ups for instance. During the next break, roll off the couch and do crunches, the next hold your legs a couple inches off the floor, the next exercise the obliques. By the end of an hour show, you should have completed a full ab workout. That worked for me for years. Then...
We replaced furniture. In addition to a new couch (since it is new perhaps I should refer to it as a sofa) we obtained a nice, if large, coffee table. More importantly, in my opinion, I have a leather recliner. Not only do I no longer watch (the new) TV from the couch, the coffee table takes up my old exercise space. And, it is much more of a struggle to release from a recliner than simply rolling off the couch. It is soooooo easy to break an exercise habit.
I now have an exercise CD to encourage my ab work. I lost my time efficient method, but found a suitable replacement. I tried going to the gym and doing the ab class. Ouch! That is some serious punishment. I'll stick to the CD until a better alternative presents itself.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I prefer to take a recovery type ride the day after working out with weights. But my morning went like this: 45 minutes of physical therapy exercise for my left deltoid; 30 minutes of abdominal work (it could be done in 15 but there is no rush); 20 minutes of yoga standing poses; acupuncture. Given some rest and hydration between, plus drive-time, it was noon when I returned home.
The weather forecast is wind for tomorrow and Sunday, so another tt practice is indicated for today. The thermometer registered a pleasant 75 degrees. By 1:15pm I was back in the park and warming up. Great choice!
I still couldn't hang in the 90%-plus heart-rate, and my legs certainly knew I'd worked them hard yesterday, but the clock showed times comparable to last year before the qualifiers.
A couple days ago I forgot my new tt helmet. This time I had it.
My warm-up 5k utilized the regular helmet, the serious practices had the new one. Yes, I could tell the difference, especially going into the wind. The helmet covers my ears, and even if I can't prove aerodynamics, just not having the wind noise made me feel faster.
The lesson here is not just for cycling, or even restricted to sports: Having the proper equipment makes goal achievement much, much easier. And, of course, the harder you (study) practice, the easier the test.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The pundits are hypothesizing if Tiger can win the Masters on his first foray after his "problem." He has, afterall, had four plus months away from competition. This really isn't an editorial, but since I titled it such, I'll put in my two cents worth. Back when he started he said something to the effect of: "If I bring my A-Game, I'll win." Lack of game experience or not, if he can put distractions to the side for four days, even A- or B+ should get him another green jacket.
I, on the other hand, must bring my A game just to keep the competition in sight. That isn't going to happen on my first time-trial April 10th. Yesterday I finally got on the tt bike and did a few 5k reps. I thought it was the first time since last October, but somehow managed one on January 27th. Tiger, at least, has been practicing.
The dead calm wind,when I left the house, indicated perfect practice weather. Driving to the park, I noticed flags standing straight out. These weren't little gas station triangles, but good sized Stars and Stripes. I estimate 15mph when I started and 20mph when I quit. The bike was being blown around when the wind came from the side. Practice was cut short in the interest of safety. Don't get me wrong, it was a good workout, so I ignored the slow times, the gasping breath, the heart-rate.
I like being fast, I like being good, but most of all, I like having fun. Outcomes notwithstanding, April 10th and 11th will net me two days of fun racing on my bike. Speaking of fun, soon a group of us will begin riding the Natchez Trace. Check back later to see if expectations met reality.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


While in California I cycled with my ears stopped up. Upon arriving home I went to my ENT doctor. Here it is, three weeks later and so far no relief. Between weather, medications, and other whiney excuses, my training has suffered greatly. However, I managed to get out this past weekend for 45 miles on Saturday and talked my friend, Evelyn, into accompanying me on my 42 mile, 22 climb traditional Sunday ride. For those in the Austin area, the loop is: Raincreek, Loop 360, Bee Cave, 620, and through Balcones.
Here is where the reality check comes in. I've been riding with Evelyn for several years. Even though when we started together she was coming off a serious hip situation, and certainly not close to 100%, I was usually in the 70% range and always ahead on climbs. I felt a little dishonest in not telling her that Raincreek had two hills, 16% and 16% with a 20% ramp, just to get us started. She is familiar with 360 and 620 so they were no surprises, however she hadn't been training on hills, so this would be a good workout. I'll cut to the chase: she led me up all the hills and was kind enough to ease off the pace so I wouldn't expire.
I know she has been training hard these last few months while I made excuses, so she gets the kudos. I, on the other hand, need to get with the program. We'll be taking this ride again in a few weeks. Check back to see how we did.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


My intention, after the last post, was to have an exciting write-up of my adventures at Kelley Acres. The trip to Frederick, Maryland included a spin class, author presentation to the Orchard Grove 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, and attendance at grandson's band concert. Most of the planned activities were replaced by clearing 30 inches of snow from the driveway. You will have to wait for my next trip, or go yourself, to experience the ultimate spin class.
That post was intended to be followed by this one: A great week of cycling in California. My friend, Byran, from Portland, Oregon and I visit our friend, Ray, in Lompoc, CA for a week dedicated to cycling. In the past we coincided with the Amgen Tour of California, but they moved the race to May. No problem, the Winter Olympics took up the non-cycling time. While I have a detailed write-up (available upon request), the bare bones story is we cycled 250 miles in six days with no rain and in four of the six days, finished the last five miles with the wind at our backs. What a great week!
Those who know Byran, know he never misses seeing anything on the road and has a penchant for stopping to pick up wheel-weights. On our last day he spied what appeared to be an errant I-pod. Stopping suddenly, he scooped up his treasure and put it in his pocket and proceeded to the top of the (steep) hill where we regrouped. He had some trouble getting it opened to display his find, but all-to-soon flipped the lid to discover it was an empty dental floss container. Fortunately we left the next day, thus he only had to hear the jibes for the few hours remaining in our ride.
Back home now, I have six weeks to get in shape for my first race. Hopefully, the posts will come more frequently.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I just looked at last year's January mileage: 406. I will finish this month at 148. When I'm out riding I let my mind wander and usually come up with an idea to write about. I'm more worried about the lack of recent posting than mileage, mainly because I have a week of cycling in California with Ray and Byran on my February schedule. Ray takes his hosting seriously, in that he sees to it Byran and I get lots of cycling miles. I should end February on the high side of 500.
It's not that I've been a sluggard. Weights, abs, and yoga have taken up the slack, so my body is prepared for higher mileage. Also, I have been able to hold my winter weight gain to four pounds. I see my friend Grace has posted something about eating less in winter. I attribute my stability to not eating more. However, I'll be glad when Girl Scout Cookies sales have passed.
Changing the subject, I read an article on Velonews last week on changing tires and not getting the tube caught. While I always recheck that the tube has not caught under the bead, I always start the tire at the stem and end opposite. This article explains why it is best to start opposite and end at the stem. It is almost time to install new tires for the coming season, so I'll give that procedure a try.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I took advantage of the great weather yesterday to enjoy a leisurely ride on the back roads of Williamson County. My companion on this lovely afternoon does not like to stand to pedal and in our 34 mile sojourn, standing was not required. Thus I return to a topic posted sometime last year, because she is not the only cyclist with whom I ride who eschews standing until absolutely necessary, ie. she runs out of gears and still needs power to remain in motion.
Another repeat: the disclaimer of not being an expert; but I am experienced. If you fall into the category of Non-Stander, then resolve to put this device into your repetoire. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Don't worry about the bike (frame) going side-to-side with each pedal stroke. However, keep the tires (handlebars) straight. We can't have you wandering all over the road. When you come to a moderate climb that is easily taken seated by one smaller gear, instead to go one larger gear and stand for three sets of eight strokes. This should not require more power and actually might be less, and definitely a slower cadence. What you are looking for is whatever gear you can comfortably pedal. If you generally run 75-80 rpm, you might find 60 rpm or less is what feels best to you.
On an average ride, try to be out of the saddle at least every 15 minutes. Let me rephrase that: Don't go more than 15 minutes without standing to pedal.
The main benefit is change of position, giving your back a break and using different muscles. The longer the ride (like 3 or 4 hours), the more your seated muscles need relief. Secondarily, should you come to a steep climb actually requiring power-strokes, you won't be calling on muscles that are not properly stretched and warm.
One other thing about starting with 3 sets of 8 reps, standing. That is only 24 reps and about 25 seconds. You should be aiming for two minutes or more.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Last week I met with the group for an afternoon ride, when it had warmed up a bit. At 50 degrees and a south wind, my tights and three layers on my chest should have been sufficient to keep me toasty all afternoon. Alas! Something wasn't right :( What I have learned over the years is that the better your body is tuned, the more you detect aberrations. One of the tell-tales is the inability to properly react to cold temperature. We started off at a moderate pace, although hitting a hill immediately. My heart rate went up appropriately, and my muscles worked smoothly, but I continued to "feel" cold. Two miles into the ride, even with the wind at my back, I bid adieu to my comrades, returned to the park, and drove home.
I knew the symptoms and undertook the remedy: Ginger tea and large dose of vitamin C, followed by a nap. More tea and C at bedtime , a good night's sleep and I felt better the next day. Was I really coming down with something? We'll never know. An ounce of prevention.... Thanks, Karen.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Last year I had seven outside rides in the first two weeks of January. This year, so far, I managed a 25 miler yesterday. It was 48 degrees, overcast, with a brisk southerly breeze. I had three layers on my chest, tights, long fingered gloves and, while not miserable, certainly did not enjoy any part of the ride. I wouldn't have done this by myself, it was my friends putting themselves in the same conditions that gave me the push I needed. We rode yesterday because of the arctic front that pushed through this morning and will hang around for the next three days.
So today I sit inside, watching the bone-chilling north wind blow over poorly anchored trash cans or pushing empty boxes down the street. If I look out my back window I see a family of vultures feasting on the carcass of a deer that managed to die in the middle of the creek that is our boundry line. Technically, it's in my neighbor's yard (as if that would make a difference!). It is far enough away so as not to be intrusive.
The plan for today is to ride in the kitchen. But to accomplish the act, I will have to generate more energy than my current level.

Friday, January 1, 2010


We had nice weather on the last day of the year, so I took advantage and set out on my usual 30 mile route. I savored the weather and focused on how my body functioned. As the miles drifted by my disenchantment grew; not with my pleasant surroundings, but at the inability to push out of "mediocre." At the turnaround, the clock confirmed my speed, or lack thereof, and I began the mental check-list of possible reasons: lack of training (a mere 158 miles in December); muscle fatigue due to weight training; too much chocolate, mince pie, etc.
Before despair settled in, I also remembered doing the exact checklist on a similar ride last year. And I remembered that everything turned out quite well. So I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the return. I even had time to congratulate myself on my timing, in that as I rolled the last two miles, the forecasted increase in wind started, and I made it safely home without having to fight it.
Time to start a new decade.