Monday, April 25, 2011


Yesterday's ride wasn't a disaster. A bit of discombobulation at the beginning got me out of routine, however. Late getting up, late leaving, a few minutes late getting to the start. It got a few more minutes late as I looked at the computer and realized I'd forgotten to switch from the time-trial read-out (which only showed BPM and RPM). Frustration because I forgot how to switch it back (actually I could switch it, but added the extra push of the "enter" button and it kept reverting to the tt screen). OK, I would just live with it.
Then I saw the screen indicating my heart was beating at 30BPM. Dang! As it turns out, I need a new battery, but for this ride, I also had no accurate reading. But, back to the topic of the day.

The first hill is short, so I gave no thought when it took an extra gear to get up and over. The next is longer and steeper. Generally, I do this in the middle ring with a cog to spare. Sometimes, I use the last one (28). Surprise! Quickly into the granny and moved right up to the 28. Once past the 24% ramp I dropped back a cog, but I gave my legs a dirty look. Where had all the power gone?
I now had the four hills on Loop 360 with which to contend. I concentrated on RPMs, keeping above 80 most of the time and no longer worrying about what gear it took to keep spinning. It wasn't until I turned onto Bee Cave that I wondered what my time was. Then it crossed my mind that I hadn't hit the "start" button on the timer. I gave it a stab and saw the "timer started" across the screen.
Now, with a following wind, the hills were not so intimidating, but I was still a gear or two short. Making the turn back on FM620, I generally kept the wind behind, on my right shoulder, but occasionally on my right. This might not turn out so bad if I could get a boost up the dam and Steiner Ranch. My hopes were dashed as I went down toward the dam with a strong wind in my face. The flat road across the dam had me in the middle ring. I got a break going up to Steiner Ranch and once over the top, the slight turn to the left was all I needed to put the wind again behind on my right shoulder.
All this time, my RPMs stayed at or above 80 and my energy level was good. Even turning into the wind at Anderson Mill didn't slow me down. It would have been nice to know my heart-rate, but the perceived exertion was only in the 7 range.
My average speed of 17.2mph (for the 1hr 41min it was on) exceeded the average for this loop, so I'm happy with that. I just need to find where the power went.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Finally! Easily the best tt practice this year, and maybe one of the best ever. Not the fastest, just a really good workout. Here is how it came about: 1) I paid attention to the weather forecast; 2) The weather forecast was spot-on; 3) I felt good and strong to the end.
The forecast called for the wind to die down last night, to be light out of the northeast, then moving to the east and strengthening during the day. I left the house at 7:45am and drove to Old Settlers Park, my own personal tt training road. By 8:15am I had started my warm-up loop, 3.1 miles. Zero wind. After a short break, I did my 5k tt practice. The time was average, but RPMs were what I concentrated on, and they we pretty good at 82 per minute.
Next came a 10k, twice out-and-back. Again, an average time, but I kept the 82 rpm average. A breeze had started. Usually, this early in the season, that is the extent of my practice, But I felt strong, so did another 5k run. Slower by 5 seconds than my first one, but I only dropped to 81 rpm. The wind had shifted to the east and increased in strength.
I called it a day, on the bike. But upon arriving home, a quick shower and I was off to the gym for Body Flow (combination of yoga and pilates), the Plus in the title. I quickly found out that these two exercises should not be undertaken back-to-back. Static stretches were fine, and I benefitted greatly from the hip-openers. The balance moves couldn't be held, and several positions could not be attained. Toward the end, both calves were threatening to rebel. Ah, well! Now I know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#@%! HAPPENS...

I know my heart and lungs are in great shape. Besides all the cycling, the myriad tests last year confirmed my excellent health. However, I worry about the unknown assassins lurking in wait of the unwary. I'll tell you up-front, all is well now, but this past Saturday we received quite a scare.

Marilane was out running errands and I try not to cycle on Saturdays, other exercises being the agenda. In this case, push-ups. I'm following the six-week program and just started week six, in the middle column. I'd completed sets of 40, 50, and 25 and was resting for the next set when suddenly I got weak and woozy (this term because I didn't lose consciousness but certainly wasn't thinking clearly).

Anyhow, I monitored myself while supine and there was no pain, no nausea, just really, really weak. Both my blood pressure and heart rate had dropped precipitously. I waited for this to pass, but ten minutes went by and I was still afraid to move from my now half-sitting position.

Marilane came home and I apprised her of the situation. First call the bookstore and advise I would not show up for my book-signing. Then we decided 911 would be appropriate. The fire department came, they were very nice, checked my blood and blood pressure. The ambulance came, they were very nice. Gave me an EKG and a ride to Seton Williamson County. They were very nice, gave me a bag of saline, another EKG, another blood sample. In two hours I was on my way home.

Here is what I learned: my efforts apparently triggered a Vagus nerve incident. In simple terms, the Vagus nerve regulates lots of stuff, and whatever I did, it thought my heart might explode, thus shut it down (not completely, just to protect me from myself). This resulted in the drop in blood pressure and heart-rate. The doctor advised that should it happen again, lay still with my feet elevated until I felt better.

I took Sunday off, but was back cycling on Monday (in the kitchen on my trainer, closely watching my HRM). No problems. Tuesday (today), the wind and smoke kept me off the bike, but I went to Body Flow at the gym, and just now completed Day 3 of Week 5 push-ups (dropping back to give me a few days to rebuild). For those not wishing to link over, that consists of sets of 20,20,24,24,20,20,22,50. Ah, but this time utilizing a different approach. For one thing, I was warmed up. No more dropping to the floor and starting cold. For another, between each set, rather than sit and recover, I stood and walked around a bit and drank some water. And, because it is possible I had been holding my breath and straining, I now am extremely conscious of regular breathing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


This is more interesting than important. While I don't like competing with the younger guys, it is always interesting to see how things stacked up against the whole field. Of course, like in any race, not all the fast guys show up. Keep in mind Senior Games has 5-year increments, starting at age 50. In the 10k time trial on Saturday, first place overall was my friend Peter Lekisch (he is in the 70-74 group). Second place was the winner of the 50-54, third was the winner of 55-59, fourth to Bill Corty in the 65-69, fifth and sixth in the 50-54, and I placed 7th (second in my age group). Everyone else was slower. In the 5k time trial on Sunday, first place was the winner of 55-59, second place (one second slower) was the winner of 50-54, third place was Peter (7 seconds slower than 1st). Forth place was in the 50-54 group and fifth was Bill Corty, sixth was in the 50-54 group and again I placed 7th overall.
In the grand scheme of things, in the 10k I was faster than 4 younger guys and in the 5k was faster than 5 younger guys.

Monday, April 11, 2011


This spring has been the pits as far as training. The fact that I don't let a good vacation go to waste exacerbates the situation. Yes, I cycled in California and cycled in Georgia and South Carolina, but that wasn't hard-core training. Back at home, the wind has been relentless. So, with that caveat, we move on to this week-end's competition. San Antonio's Research Park is a great venue. It has a 2.5 mile loop with two hills, great asphalt, no traffic. It always has wind, and this year was no exception, about 25mph out of the SE. Saturday afternoon starts with a 10km time-trial followed by a 20km road race. Sunday morning is a 5km time-trial and a 40km road race. I wasn't happy to see Bill Corty, as I knew he was much faster than I, as is Peter Leikisch but he has moved on to the 70-74 age group. In a time-trial, the more you can go all-out, the better you will place. It also helps to have a tt bike and be able to assume a good aero position in order to hide from the wind as much as possible. I have the bike and position. I can also say that for this race I had an average heart rate in the 93% range. 13 out of 17 minutes were in Zone 5. You can't get much better than that, and the result was second place behind Corty. In the hour and a half between races, I changed wheels on my bikes, since the tt Zipp wheels are much better than my Rolfs. In doing so, I somehow assumed an incorrect position and suddenly developed sciatica over my left hip. It wouldn't go away. That was all I needed to decided that discression was the better part of valor, and packed up and went home. Sunday morning, I had a difficult time getting up and down but no problem on the bike. The short tt went well, once again coming in second behind Bill. Stats for this race are typical of my 5k: average heart rate in the 80% range and only 26 seconds in Zone 5. I just can't get properly warmed up. The 40k race, 10 laps, went well. Bill tried to go solo but the wind was too much for him and after 5 laps he dropped back into our pack. I felt pretty good and on each lap would stand and pedal up one of the hills in order to keep my hamstrings ready for the big sprint I knew would come at the end. I had my finishing tactics all worked out. On the 9th lap, when I stood to pedal, my quads grumbled a bit, so I quickly sat down. A mile later we came to the beginning of the last lap and suddenly my left hamstring seized up. Not just a cramp, it flat froze, causing me to utter a loud expletive, unclip the leg and come to a stop. I'd like to say a few seconds massage released it, but it took several minutes before I could even put enough weight on it to lift my right leg over the saddle. Game over. I'm now home for two months, no trips, and ready to put some serious training it (right after I get a massage and can move my leg, which is still complaining).

Monday, April 4, 2011


My wife has visited both Charleston, SC and Savannah, Ga on several occasions and wanted me to also feel the charm of these two historic cities. The calendar showed an opening for the last week of March, so we took the opportunity. This worked out perfectly, for as we left Texas and got into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, the wisteria and dogwood brightened the landscape, bringing the occasional ooh! or ahh! Yes, the bike and four kits were in the car. We arrived in Savannah in time for dinner and a ghost tour. The next morning I left for a short 20 mile ride (having found the directions online). Fortunately, I'm not traffic-adverse so the lack of shoulder didn't bother me too much. The vehicles shared the road and I had no incidents. Eventually I came to a really nice stretch, with trees on both sides creating a shaded arch. When this road merged with a major highway (my directions indicated I should continue on this highway) without shoulder I started looking for an alternative and within 50 yards saw a bike-route sign leading off to the left. The road was good, sparse traffic, and I meandered along until it also hit a major road, then turned around and retraced my steps. Total: 25 miles. Back in Savannah, we started walking. The old city was designed around parks. Camillias had not yet finished blooming, but the azaleas were gorgeous and had just blossomed out a few days before. The parks, and the main street , burst with a profusion of color. Spanish moss hung everywhere. Since this is a cycling blog, I'll move on, as we did, to Charleston. The weather was cold and misty, with occasional drizzle. That didn't hamper us taking a walking tour, and a horse tour. We ate at Paula Dean's and drove to Tybee Island. We toured, but what I didn't do was cycle. Our departure day came and with it sunshine, no wind. Not one to let this opportunity pass, I bundled up (40 degrees when I started), and rode out to Folly Beach (thanks to and back, still getting showered and packed before check-out time. Post script: I had maps, clothes, and intention of getting in four rides. Sometimes things don't turn out as planned. No regrets, the touring alternatives were great. BTW, I am putting in paragraphs but Blogspot keeps condensing.