Sunday, June 21, 2015


     Well, it was fun while it lasted.  With tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, I've proclaimed myself "the fastest man in Texas" for a number of years.  While a true statement, it took a bit of spinning to see how I arrived at that "honor."  But, without spin, I can unequivocally say that in state competition, the last time I was off the podium for a time trial was 2008.  At Senior Games Nationals I was 13th in the 10k and 18th in the 5k, but the fastest from Texas.  All of that came to an end this weekend.
     It wasn't unexpected.  My training has been spotty, my practice times slow.  Plus, faster guys entered the race (yes, some of my ill-gotten results are because the fast guys didn't show up).  I was pretty sure I'd be racing for third place.  And I repeat what I've said before: I'm in it for fun and conditioning.  All the same, I'm sad to see the string end (I was fourth by a half-second, that hurts a bit).
     But about the races themselves.  Hempstead was hot and ultra humid.  For the ITT, I had a
Saturday 7:36 a.m. start.  It was an out-and-back course, slightly downhill and flat outbound, slightly uphill and flat on the way back.  Truly, I characterize it as flat.  I think I only used three gears, maybe four.  I started last as defending champion.  The main stats I use speak for themselves: average heart-rate of 148 (89% of max and about 3 beats short of AT) and average cadence of 88, but most of that was really at 90.  The most important stat was mph: 21.7 average and 25.8 max. (last year I was 22.1 average and 28.5 max).  I was a gear or two short but whenever I tried moving, I couldn't push it.
     Besides lack of strength compared to last year, I'm also packing an additional ten pounds, so my strength-to-weight ratio has also suffered.  I'll see if I can remedy that.
The weekend wasn't a disaster.  I had fun, did my best, reacquainted with racing buddies, and still came home a State Champion.  The second, third, and fourth-place (me) finishers teamed up for the Team Time Trial Sunday morning and finished first.  Without any practice, other than a shaky start and turn-around, we had a very smooth race, with our transitions being excellent.  It isn't the first time we've teamed up, but was our best outing so far.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


     Sorry, this is a cycling blog and I'm referring to my heart-rate.  I first noticed it on Friday.  Wednesday was time-trial practice and the fifth day in a row of pretty heavy riding.  I took Thursday off to stretch and get in some strength training.  Friday I did another time-trial practice, knowing full well the speed would be less.  Well, my breathing was ragged and heart-rate about eight beats low.  In the next two weeks I needed to improved two minutes over 20k based on the Wednesday time and instead added a minute and a half.  Friday's practice did very little for my ego.
     Rather than take another day off, I embarked on an early morning recovery ride, my standard Limmer Loop two-hour, twenty-nine mile mostly flat sojourn in the corn fields.  With a stated goal of a low heart-rate, I used low gears, 80 rpms for the most part (average for the ride 74), and ended up with an average HR of 108.  Interestingly enough, it ended up only a few minutes slower than my previous circuit.  This morning I'll ride with a group and see if I can hang at the back and have another day keeping the HR down.
     Sunday post-ride: yes, 25 miles with an average HR of 94.  True, I rode with the beginners, but we still averaged 12.7 mph.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


     I dislike (hate being an over-used word in today's lexicon) riding on Saturdays.  Being retired, I usually accomplish sufficient mileage during the week.  I dislike riding in the evenings, preferring the (relatively) cool mornings.  And it irks me no end to be unable to keep up with the group.  It isn't like I purposely ride with faster riders.
     However, the looming Texas State Time Trials finds me woefully short of training.  The distance for the race is 20k and so far I have managed three very slow 15k practices.  Yesterday was to have been my first 20k practice.  Broken springs on the garage door were the reason I couldn't get out until evening, but that is getting ahead of the narrative.
     The interminable rains finally stopped.  Needing the mileage, Saturday was first on the agenda.  Fortunately for me, some ride I had absolutely no interest in was canceled, but in its place Bicycle Sport Shop friends decided to do the Dam Loop starting at 7:30 am. Before re-joining the BSS Sunday rides, it so happens my Sunday morning loop encompassed most of these same roads.  Now I was interested.  This is a forty-four mile adventure with a few hills.  We set a pretty good pace, my Garmin showing 15.7 average.  Just what I needed (not to mention a few post-race beverages).
     The Sunday morning ride was posted as COTA, but because the previous week was rained out, we were going out Bee Caves.  This is a very hilly route and just getting out of Rollingwood and on to Loop 360 was quite taxing.  After about a half-hour of climbing the rollers, I started losing ground and couldn't catch up on the downhills.  A pace I could comfortably maintain came about 2 mph slower than the group.  At a group stopping place, before the very arduous climb up Cuernavaca, I pulled the plug and advised the sweeper I would leave the group, carry on and make my way back to BSS.
     Well, I didn't go directly back the way we came, I also dislike an out-n-back ride.  I continued on Loop 360, tracking yesterday's ride.  I had no desire to explore (sometimes called getting lost but going in the right direction until something turns up), so headed for a familiar road.  In the over forty years I've been cycling in Austin, I've never gone up Spicewood Springs Road from Loop 360.  Just because I couldn't keep up with the group didn't mean I was completely out of gas.  Spicewood Springs (Garmin showed 16%, felt more like 20) now has a check-mark.  All in all, my ride encompassed twenty-five miles and 2000 feet of climbing, at an average pace of 14.5 MPH.
     To back up to the previous post regarding my lack of cadence, last week I had the opportunity for a two-hour ride and used it to practice increased cadence.  I was extremely proud of holding at or near 90 RPM for most of the ride.  To my dismay upon returning to the car, I saw the place crawling with school kids.  I had to postpone my post-race stretching until I got home.  Upon arriving at home, something had come up which needed immediate attention.  Zero stretching.  The next morning my hamstrings had knots and my back started tightening.  Even a quick trip for massage only slightly assuaged the muscles.  So both the Saturday and Sunday rides were done under protest.
     Just as well I hadn't tried for TT practice Monday morning.  Instead I spent the day gently stretching my legs.  But what better way for recovery is there than a Recovery Ride (as advertised by cycling friend Dan Pedroza).  This is a Monday evening, 6pm, twenty-six (or 27.8) mile ride mostly in the country.  Great.  It was a relaxing ride.  Attendance for this ride varies, and last night we had five riders.  My average moving speed was 15.4 MPH, but we had several stops, including a flat (not me).
     I went slightly before noon today to finally get my TT practice in.  Once again, Old Settlers Park had myriad school busloads of kids, but they were not on the roads.  It was hot but I could manage.  The straw across the camel's back, however, was the lack of computer.  I packed it in and will come back tomorrow, early.  All is not lost.  This is Tuesday and BSS has a 7 pm ride.
     Recap: Saturday ride; Evening ride (2); Getting dropped; no TT practice (yet).  Yes, I have my preferences but No, they are only preferences and will be superseded by necessity.