Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where I'm At

With Trans Iowa 5 weeks away I thought I'd spend a little time on a training recap.  While I've only been riding twice a week for most of the year to date, the quality of the rides have been good and I'm feeling considerably stronger and more prepared than I was at this time last year.  Leg cramps, which I was still dealing with a year ago, are well under control and physically I feel less beat after my hard efforts than I did back then. I'm actually feeling pretty confident about my chances of finishing TI this year.  Anyway, in more detail...  Here's what I've been doing and how I'll finish off my TI preparation.

  • I've been spending one night a week with Charles riding a section of hills south of town that we call the Rollers.  It's a gravel loop a little over 8 miles long with about half of that being short, steep rolling hills.  The other half has a couple longer hills, but is otherwise relatively flat.  Total climbing per lap is about 600ft, with the biggest hill being 120ft of elevation gain.  It doesn't sound like much, but these hills are steep!  We hit the roller section hard, with me generally taking the early lead due to a wheel eating bridge at the bottom of the first descent that I tend to bomb my way across while Charles takes it slower.  I can usually crest the first climb ahead of him but he always catches me on the second.  From that point on he'll either wait up for me and alternate attacks, or he'll go off on a flyer.  In either case, I redline it.  This is arguably the most important training we do and I've been seeing much improvement because of it.  We both ride out to it and meet along the way, so we get some extra bonus miles.  2-4 laps a night is typical, spanning 2-4 hours.  We'll be doing this up through Trans Iowa.
  • Every weekend, Charles and I hook up again for a long ride that is typically between 5 and 9 hours.  Last weekend we did our first gravel hundy of the year and we'll be doing 100+ mile rides through the second weekend of April, with April 1st being a double century with Courtney Hilton.  To date I have 5 gravel metrics, one gravel century, one snow metric (fixed gear) and one snow century.  I also have a 90 mile road ride under my belt.  Last year by this time I only had one snow metric and two (almost 3) gravel metrics.  
  • The last month or so I've been lifting 1-2 days a week at work, focusing on the upper body and core.  This is good for 45-90 minutes a week.  This is part injury prevention, part upper body endurance and mostly vanity.
  • I've also been spending 1-2 lunch hours a week on the new ellipticals we have at work.  Idea being, working some of those non-cycling muscles ought to help with cramping and injury.  My calves are seeing the biggest benefit here, but it also seems to be helping my B road slogging.  30-90 minutes a week.
  • The last couple weeks, and continuing through TI, I'll be spending 2-3 days a week doing whatever I want.  This is my anti-burnout workout.  Last week I did a night focused on B road hike-a-bike.  I slung my fully loaded bike across my back and hiked it 2.5 miles down a local stretch of muddy B.  Tomorrow I'll be doing a noon ride with some co-workers.  I don't focus on anything other than enjoying myself on these rides.
  • I've been stretching a few times a week for the last few weeks.  Again, this is mostly for injury prevention but I'm also hoping it helps with my bike positioning.
For you numbers geeks out there, here's the stats from the last 6 roller rides (variance due to where we meet on the way).  The last couple weeks have been huge for me in terms of improvement, but some of that could be due to the unusually warm weather we've been having.  Still, it's an encouraging sign.
  • 2/16/12
    • 23.5 miles (1 lap)
    • 1:53 ride time
    • 12.5MPH average
    • 1,342 ft climbing
  •  2/22/12
    • 31.4 miles (2 laps)
    • 2:29 ride rime
    • 12.6MPH average
    • 1923 ft climbing
  • 3/1/12
    • 42.4 miles (3 laps)
    • 3:32 ride time
    • 12.0MPH average
    • 2742 ft climbing
  • 3/7/12
    • 31.7 miles (2 laps)
    • 2:34 ride time
    • 12.3MPH average
    • 1922 ft climbing
  • 3/14/12
    • 50.9 miles (4 laps)
    • 3:53 ride time
    • 13.1MPH average
    • 3046 ft climbing
  • 3/21/12
    • 42.4 miles (3 laps)
    • 3:09 ride time
    • 13.5MPH average
    • 2438 ft climbing

Monday, March 12, 2012


Take a little time for yourself.

Let your mind float on the breeze.

Think about nothing.

Think about everything.

Live in the moment and leave all else behind.

You won't be disappointed.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Sometimes I end conversations simply by saying "Terry Crews."  There is no rebuttal.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Failed Hundy

The instant Charles hit the gravel, the strong cross winds blew him across the glazed surface and off the side of the road.  Less than a mile into our planned gravel century and we'd already had our first crash.  This wasn't going to be our day.  After slipping and sliding over the next half mile, we decided it'd be wise to switch this over to the pavement.

So north we went, up Springville Road.  Plans were modified to head up to County Home Road where we would turn into the wind for the next 12 miles, then wind our way up to Quasqueton and back.  It may not have been the best route, but I don't ride pavement much and I ride that particular area even less so I wanted to stick with what I knew.  Once we turned into the wind, I tucked in behind Charles.  My legs were still shot from the nearly four hours of hills we attacked two nights before, so I was perfectly ok with sandbagging it.  I offered to pull exactly once.  It was more for posterity than anything.

Around an hour or so later, we decided to take a short food break as we came up to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  We took shelter from the wind in the viaduct, had a few bites, and changed our plans yet again.  Instead of heading north on Center Point Road, we'd take the trail south through town to escape the wind for a while.  Finally we were able to carry some decent speed.  We followed the trail another 20 miles to Ely, hitting the bike shop along the way, and stopped for an honest bar food lunch.

After lunch, it was back up the trail to retrace our route home.  Even though County Home was busier than we liked, it was also the best road for taking advantage of the wind and boy howdy, we'd earned that tailwind.  When we finally made the turn east on it, I settled into a nice rhythm and let the wind do the work for me.  Charles, needing to get it out of his system, shot off and took full advantage of it.  I caught up to him a few miles later as he was coming back towards me.  We hung together the rest of the way, turning south across the wind before we really wanted to.  I estimated we'd pull back into town at around 90 miles, but I didn't feel the need to round it out to a full century.  I made the comment that in terms of effort, we'd done 100.  Including stops and all the slow going in the wind on worn down legs, we'd been out for over 8 hours and it was starting to get dark.  That turned out to be good enough for us.

So...  No gravel hundy.  No hundy on the pavement either.  Oh well.  One of the Slender Fungus guys told once told me the body recognizes hours, not miles.  Good wisdom, that is.  Can't get too caught up in arbitrary numbers, after all.