Cold, What is it good for?

I’m done with the cold. Been getting up at the lovely hour of 4:30 am to get my miles in before turning into daddy or worker bee – and its been cold in the morning – with wind. Todays 27 miles was a freeze fest. True, I’ve ridden in colder weather – but when the sun starts to shine the body starts to expect milder temps. I can’t wait to ride in knicks and a wool top.

Free Motion Rollers

I finally found some time to fabricate my free motion rollers… the parts have been sitting in the garage since the first of the year.

Why? because I wanted to change up the way I ride inside. Aluminum channel to contain the mess, my Kreitler rollers mounted in 1/4″ aluminum plate. Skateboard wheels. Bungie cords. They work well enough. I’m getting some vibration I didn’t notice on the original Kreitler frame – I might have a hop in a wheel – or the bit of flex I’m getting with the 1/4″ aluminum plate is throwing everything out of alignment just so. I might rework the inner carriage to remove the flex – and I need to find a stronger 12″ bungie – while sprinting this afternoon I managed to bottom out the forward and rear travel.

The sensation is quite nice – the rollers slide for and aft in the aluminum track as you apply power, stand, or shift gears. No more of that awkward body weight shifting to keep the bike from jumping off the frame. Ride (nearly) naturally – stand up, sprint, mash, spin high RPMs… so far its all worked.

Ready to Ride

My training is way off pace. I’m stressed by the thought of even getting on the bike. I should be on the rollers. I should be focused on losing weight. According to my rough plan I should be hitting my 4-5 hour long rides starting next week – and I honestly don’t even want to ride to the grocery store. The weather has been craptastic – especially when I had my wake up call hard fall a few weeks ago. We’ve been traveling all over this winter, the whole family has been sick (I’m currently battling bronchitis and influenza A), the billable work hours are piling up (and in this economy I’ve been taking most work that comes my way).

Getting the picture. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
But honestly – it just doesn’t sound like fun anymore.

I have 2 main goals for this coming season – qualify for and finish the Endless Mountains 1240k, and enjoy the NE Fleche with our VT team of usual suspects (if we ever get confirmation on its specifics).

Jen doubled down on my EM 1240 goal. I have 3 chances to complain about it – anything from “I’m too slow, I’ll never finish” to “It’s impossible” or “I can’t ride…” No more complaining – or we cancel. And she doubled down on the weight loss, anemia, and asthma that I’ve been a horrible manager of. A good kick in the pants for sure.

Becoming a dad, trying to work part time to help with the family budget while being day to day care provider for our little one has proven more challenging than I could have dreamed. Its also been incredibly rewarding – far beyond the challenges. I just never thought it would be so hard to stay motivated. (One aspect of training I am making great strides in is sleep deprivation – the little one has been sick and going through problems with sleeping… so bring on the late night riding – I think I’m ready)

Looking for some inspiration (aside from lusting after new bike gear) I downloaded David Rowe’s The Ride of Your Life. I’m already pleased and I’m not quite through the introduction. I’ll report back as I progress. As much as I want to tear through it – I just hate reading a ‘book’ like this on the screen. Might have to sacrifice some recycled newspapers and print some of this out…

Fixed Century

Our Sunday ride group was dispersed this last weekend – so I took off solo on the Surly to retrace a previous ride. I’ve been enjoying the fixed gear bike around town- and my longest ride to date has been about 32 miles – so I decided to test the fit and my legs for a century. I explored a relatively flat route along the Winooski River from Burlington through Colchester, Essex Junction, Richmond, Waterbury and Middlesex. I’ve ridden parts of this on a previous Sunday morning ride with the IF – the terrain is tame – but there are steep rollers on the quiet country and dirt roads – some approaching 10% – but a few easily clearing 12%.

As I left Waterbury I noted the ‘bridge closed’ signs along Rt. 2 and hoped to be able to cross as a pedestrian. No such luck, as the highway department has taken care to make it a formidable obstacle to cross.

I had planned on a detour off of Rt. 2 nearby – and luckily the unnamed road (Lover’s Lane, according to Google) was just to the right of the bridge – so up some steep dirt and gravel and I discovered a lovely abandoned bridge over a ravine. A kayaker was playing in the rapids way down below – running through, rolling, then inching his way back up the side to do it over again.

I had to walk up the other side spinning out the rear tire while climbing the very steep loose sand and dirt road. The road connected me to 100b which rolls into Middlesex where I resupplied at the general store. I debated riding on to Montpelier, again following some quiet dirt roads – but guessed at my mileage and figured I was already halfway through a century.

View Larger Map

I retraced my steps home – not seeing another cyclist until Richmond – which is a popular starting place for GMBC club racers as well as the summer tourists. I negotiated Rt. 2 and 117 in the heat – stopping in Essex Junction for another burst of sports drink, a reload on water, and a snack.

I rigged the Surly much as I would for a 300k – as I’m getting comfortable with the weight and the gear I’ll be taking on my ADK adventure in just over a month. I still have much climbing work to do – I’m hoping to do an intense 2 weeks of hills and then back off and taper for the big day. I’ll most likely be on the IF for the 300k – but I will give the Surly another shot at a century in much hillier terrain before I decide on which steed will carry me through the mountains. I’m currently running 42×16 which has been working well for rolling and mixed terrain. If needed I could remount the Surly Dinglecog and have a 42×17 and 42×19 option for a climby long distance ride.

The fit on the Surly also needs some work. By the numbers it is really close to the IF – but I’ve been riding the IF without gloves and had a successful century last week – on the Surly I had numb and tingling hands only 15 miles into the ride. I packed my riding gloves as insurance and wore them the balance of the ride – they worked – but I have come to like ‘naked hands’. This week I swapped around to an adjustable stem and will play with my bars. The one difference that might come into play is that the width of the bars on the Surly is 44cm and the width on the IF is 46cm – can that 2 cm in width be numbing my hands? Or is it the Cane Creek brake levers vs. the Campy Ergos? Or the gel padded bar tape on the Surly vs. the leather on the IF?

I did have a successful ‘street shorts’ century. I’m wearing Ex-Officio boxer briefs and my old Cannondale touring shorts – no chamois for me – and with the B17 I was comfy the ride through.

Summer Evening

Took a quick 35 mile ride to Irish Hill and back for some climbing repeats and managed some nice snaps of the sunset over the lake on the return trip.


Climbed to Bolton Ski area today. This was my first serious climbing of the season and it felt good. Slow, but good. I averaged nearly 6 mph up the climb – and looking at the GMBC Time Trial results I won’t win a medal anytime soon… but it felt good to work hard for 4.4 miles. The VDO topped out at 17% grade – with long stretches at 9-10-13-14%.


I’ve started to work with a coach to bring some focus to my riding and clarity to my nutrition. For the better part of 4 years I’ve seen gains in my personal fitness primarily from re-discovering cycling. I’ve seen weight loss, strength and speed gains, and my comfort level on the bike go up. I feel stagnated from this winter and I know that as Kent Peterson says “I am not a nutritional role model”.

Our arrangement right now is pretty simple – he’s drawn up a 12 week plan to build and re-focus my base and will be pointing me in the right direction with on and off bike nutritional choices. After the 12 weeks I’ll evaluate where I’m at and will probably move into a more formal arrangement to focus on specific events for the 2008 season. After 2 weeks of following ‘the plan’ I can see that I’ve been riding too hard, too often. This is probably one of the biggest problems of self trained athletes – going too hard all the time and not letting the body rest and recover. When given proper care the body gets stronger because of its ability to heal and rebuild itself after hard efforts. If your training consists of pushing yourself to the limit day in and day out, you never give your body a chance to recover from these efforts and work its magic – its during this recovery time when the real ‘training’ happens – adaptation to hard work is what makes us stronger and faster.

The plan appears ‘easy’ on the surface – the first few weeks will see lots of Z1 and Z2 workouts with a sampling of some short intervals. I was warned that I’ll have quite a few rides in the first 3-4 weeks where I’ll question the sanity of the program, as I’m not used to “taking in the scenery”. I’ve been finding it difficult to ‘go slow’ and spin! I’m working with HR zones and limits – so for any given ride I have HR caps. The ‘easy’ days aren’t all that easy – especially when my body wants to ride at a steady state that it has gotten used to over the past few years. It seems that I always end up riding at a similar speed – moving above and below this speed takes work. As we progress the program gets rough – the mileage adds up quickly and I’ll have back to back long days in the saddle (as my primary events are Brevets and centuries) and plenty of climbing intervals.

Today I had an easy recovery spin scheduled, so I ran errands while getting my ride in. I’m enjoying my new Carradice SQR Tour bag for both my long rides and for around town. The bag comes on and off the bike easily – but is very secure while riding. It is large though – and I do get odd looks from the roadies speeding to and fro… I’m not sure what people make of a bike with a gigantic seatbag, dual headlights, taillights, and fenders. With some planning I can carry enough for a long day (maybe two) on the bike, or leave room for a run to the library, post office, bank, hardware store, and bike shop. In combination with my handlebar bag the Carradice might be perfect for a light weekend tour – a theory I hope to test later this summer.


I had a VO2 Max test done this morning at UVM, as part of a GMBC group that was celebrating the grand opening of a new rehab / fitness center in town. The test takes about 1/2 hour with warmup, and the real work is only about 15 minutes long. I rode my bike in a Computrainer and I was breathing into a mouthpiece attached to a gas analyzer. My heart rate was recorded along with watts, speed, and cadence from the trainer. We calibrated a cadence and intial wattage reading while I warmed up, then as the test began the goal was to ride as close as possible to my selected “ideal” cadence as possible, as resistance was increased every 2 minutes. It started to hurt when I hit the middle of the 300 watts section – about 5-7 minutes into the test. I’m not sure how far into the resistance we reached nearing the 11 minute mark – I had tapped out all my gears, was pedaling squares, and was struggling to breathe. The techs gave me a preliminary data sheet – the last 2:40 of the test I was riding a consistent heart rate of 193 bpm! At this point there are only a few numbers that I can make sense of – I’m looking forward to a detailed evaluation of my test results that I should have later this week. Jen snapped a few pictures – neither of which are very flattering – but I do like the fish look as I reached for my waterbottle.