I’ve been diagnosing a creak / squeak on the IF and after fussing with the BB for more than a month determined it was a worn spacer or cog on my cassette. On Tuesday night the BB on the Surly decided to self destruct.
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 smelled summer on my evening ride. Highs in the 70s during the day and that sweet smell of summer as evening cooled the air. We’ve a long way to go before summer is in full swing – but today we got a taste. I rode out to Shelburne and back on an easy ride exploring some backroads by the bay and returned after dark.
I rode a wonderful century on Sunday. It was a picture perfect Vermont spring day. I travelled from Burlington through Richmond, Huntington, Bristol, Addison, Vergennes, Charlotte, Shelburne and returned to Burlingon covering 102 miles. The route I chose flanked Camel’s Hump, wandered over ‘Baby Gap’, and to the shore of Lake Champlain. I passed mountains, meadows, orchards and a covered bridge. 7:20 riding time, 7:50 total time with 4700 feet of climbing and an ugly crosswind and headwind for the last 40+ miles.
Rode a great out and back century to Montpelier. Snapped a picture of the golden dome and enjoyed a snack at Capital Grounds before heading back home. Managed good time on the relatively flat route along the Winooski River – I had a headwind for most of the way back and only struggled over the last 10 miles. I started in the late afternoon and finished well after dark. I used the ride as a shakedown for some gear that I plan on using on my upcoming brevets. I really like the Carradice SQR Tour bag and I spent some time fine tuning my lights.
I’ve been feeling much better since last month’s sufferfest. I’ve added some intensity to my training mix after (hopefully) building a large enough endurance base to have a successful (and more intense) summer season. I’m also close to working with a coach – not that I need one for competition purposes – but I’ve been looking for someone who can work with me to focus my limited training time for the greatest benefits as well as direct me to make healthy on and off bike nutrition choices. I’ve interviewed a few folks via email and had a great one on one discussion today with a professor at UVM’s human performance lab.
I’ve been riding the Surly almost exclusively since building it up in February. It has seen roads, snow, and now mud. I explored town a bit yesterday and started in the Intervale. The Intervale has several paths that crisscross its 350 acres and I explored part of the ‘Cycle the City‘ route. The paths change from jeep trail to single track and dirt road crossing fields and cutting through several pockets of trees. It is relatively flat – but the mud and the muck at this time of year required some effort to negotiate. I started at Ethan Allen Homestead and road out and back to the south end, climbing Intervale Rd. to Riverside Dr. at the turn around. Riding fixed in the dirt was tons of fun… I think I had more control of the bike in the slick mud with the FG than with my mountain bike, and I learned quickly that trail obstacles can be much more challenging fixed – I struck my pedals several times crossing through and riding in large ruts and I opted to walk a few sections of washed out trail littered with downed tree branches. Not being able to freewheel I have a fear of tangling my feet as I pedal through and over obstacles. After the Intervale I took off for downtown to do a few hill repeats on Depot Street and watched as a snow squall moved across the lake.
My March century was a sufferfest. With all the travel for work and play (see previous post) I’d only been on the fixed gear for short rides around town two maybe three times since my February century. It really showed – or I was having a really bad day.
I set out from Burlington and rode through Williston, Bristol, Middlebury and Vergennes. In all I covered 108.5 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing. The day started cold in the 30’s and climbed to the high 60’s. I suffered from mile 30 on, with a slight repreive between miles 96 and 106 where I felt great. I had trouble with just about everything other than the bike – eating and drinking on the bike were off, I was overdressed, then underdressed, and I was pretty sore in spots. I forced down a sports drink about 20 miles from home and it really helped – my electrolytes must have been out of balance – about 30 minutes after I was able to pick up the pace for awhile and enjoy the ride. I covered the distance in just under ten hours total time, with about nine hours on the bike. Last season I completed my first 200k (125 miles) and 7,000 feet of climbing while severely anemic in 9:46! Where have my legs gone?
I overhauled the bike after my February adventure and swapped out the Campy chain for a Wipperman. The Wipperman has made a huge difference – my drivetrain runs much quieter and I didn’t have any mis-shifts the entire ride. I’ve used their quick links on other chains and bikes – but this is my first experience with their chain and links. So far so good.
I’m not entirely sold on the Selle Anatomica saddle I installed this winter. It is noisy as the leather rubs on certain bits of the frame, and I could swear that as my longer rides go on I end up sinking closer and closer to the top of the seatpost and saddle clamp. Yesterday it felt like I was hitting the top of the clamp when I rode over rough pavement. I’ll experiment a bit more – but I may swap back to my well broken in Brooks Swallow.
After yesterday I am rethinking some of my goals. If it turns out I had a bad day (which can happen) – I’ll press on and try to complete my season as I imagined – if the trend of a really rough rides continues I’ll dial back my goals, focus on regaining lost fitness and having fun so as to not burn out / stress out watching my speeds drop and frustration set in.