Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nordic Celebration

The Hilltoppers have grown from 7 to 50 kids

Today was a celebration of wintertime at Chapin Forest with 5 and 10k races for the adults and 1, 2 and 3k races for the kids. I got up bright and early, got stretched and exercised then headed off solo to Chapin to do my first XC race. My wife and daughter would be soon to follow.

I was supposed to borrow some fast Classic skis, but when I arrived the lender was not there yet, so in a rush I rented some skis, boots and poles. Its only $5 at the Lodge. The skis were new, but looked a bit wide and were a tad heavy. No worries-I wanted a good workout and to taste XC ski racing.

We lined up with a small field of about 27 or 28 in the 5k classic race. I stayed near the back being a beginner. The instructions were to double pole out of the start area. he said go, I go, but my skis are soo slow I am going no where. I double pole all the time on my skate and my classic skis (which delaminated on me last week) and this was unreal.

As we turned to go up the first minor climb I start to make up positions (about 5 or so spots) by just humping up the climb really hard, but every time down the hills I listen to my waxless skis go whrrwheewhhrrwhee and the guys pass me like I am standing still. They arent even tucked. One guy was having a smoke and the other was texting his friend on his Blackberry...ok just kidding. So up more climbs and I start to get a gap, but when we hit the long descent back to the bottom three guys go past and theres no catching them, though I tried like heck.

The effort is fun-its what I wanted to do today-just go balls to the walls for 5k!! But once in race conditions I really wanted to have some race skis BAAD!!

Dick did the 5 and 10k races

In the end one of the Hilltopper coaches Josh Dally (who competed in a 50k XC race in the U P of Michigan yesterday) won and I was 9 minutes back in 17th with a 26:something. Must have been a good race up a few minutes!! I think with race skis I could have gone 4 minutes faster at least. Most of the rest of the field was about 6 minutes ahead of me. I did get some props when i finished though and that was fun!! The announcer said I was on rental skis!! There were only 3 in my age group, so I got 2nd in the 40-49 group.

Josh finishing the 10k race

So my first XC ski race was a blast and I am pumped to do more. I am a horrid Skate skier, but thats what my new skis are. But not being good isn't a big deal. Ive only been skiing this winter. Now I'd be a liar if I said Ive never skied before this year. I went twice last winter and then a handful of times in the 80's. My point being that I should do Skate races to avoid the rental ski crutch, but I like Classic too.

Audrey, one smooth skiier

Come on out and give it a try!! Its a great workout and who doesnt like sweating in 15 degree temperatures!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Split Personality

I was at Chapin this afternoon with Audrey. after skiing on my old classic skis with Thom a few days ago I found getting into the rhythm of the Skate skis really hard today. V1 to V2, etc. I felt like gravity had increased 100 fold as I tried to climb the lighted trail too. Ugghh!!

Then as I was about to make my last trip on the mile loop I made this subtle little adjustment with my feet and all of a sudden 3 or 4 "bad" things went away and I finally started to climb using the skis and not just my poles. I was so excited I was whooping it up to myself as I skied. Kid at heart thats me.

But all good things must come to an end, even happy emotions. Well, especially happy emotions. I got home to a dinner of apple and cinnamon pancakes and sausages only to realize that I left my skis at Chapin. Back in the van with the empty fuel light blazing. There and back and some still delicious microwaved pancakes and sausage.

Then down to the basement to sort out the fit dilemma of trying to make my TT bike fit and be UCI legal. So a borrowed Fizik Arione Tri saddle goes on and the dance of the levels, allen wrenches and tape measures ensues. Well ,lets say my bike and fit is completely FUBAR right now and my stomach is in knots I am so pissed off right now. I am so uncomfortable that the whole bike feels like crap. And I had it feeling so whicked good two weeks ago.

I need a good nights sleep tonight as I have to get up at 6am to get my exercises, training ride on the TT bike in and get Audrey to swim class. I looked forward all week to this workout, but now with the saddle position and I being at war I dont even want to ride.

Well at least I should be back on my Fischer skis by afternoon. OH-and I am entering a cross country race Sunday too!! Whoo-hoo. A little happy to go with a whole lot of PISSED OFF!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yawn- A different kind of training.

I am waking up every morning now at 6:30am. OH alright-you got me, the alarm goes off at 6:30 and I get up between 6:40 and sometimes 7. I am in training to get up at 6am and may even get up as early as 5:30 in the spring. But baby steps!!

Make coffee, drink some water and OJ and down to the basement for 50 minutes of stretches and exercises from Todd Palmer. Then more often then not lately right onto the bike for 45 minutes and then right up to eat, play with my daughter just a bit before school and sometimes walk her over to Kindergarten.

If I dont ride right away I play Mr. mom all morning then ride after she goes to school. Afternoons are pretty much out now due to early sunsets and my wife has started working out in the basement almost every afternoon too. Way to go Stacie!!

It seems that the only non guilty time available anymore is morning. Too bad I had that near miss in darkness last year that has me a bit spooked about riding in the dark. I only have small LED blinkers on my bike. I am not ready to pony up for real lights yet so I wait till I see the sun.

But this getting up early things is truly great. I mean I dont have a life anymore so going to bed early isnt a real issue. What is an issue is waking up 2 to 3 hours after falling asleep (which alone takes a long time)and lying awake for most of the next 3 or 4 hours!! I have no idea what thats about, but I hope its sorts itself out. Its been like this for a year now so I have a feeling its not going away. Shut-up brain-back to sleep!! I dont know if I qualify as an endurance athlete, but I have read its a problem for "us". Sleeping soundly through the night that is.

Riding on the trainer has been a subject tossed around lately and I had a good workout that the way I structured it it seemed to make time fly by. I am still in Z2 till Saturday when I finally start to put some intensity in. ON ym TT rig too-YESSIR!! What i did was split up the Z2 stuff (could be Z3,Z4 if your ready for it) into smaller blocks,but not too small and tricking my brain into thinking I was having fun, looking forward to rests and not trudging on endlessly at one HR or wattage forever. This is nothing extraordinary I admit, but I'd not really done it quite like this before.

10 min warm-up
20 minute Z2
10 minute recovery
20 minute Z2
10 minute recovery
20 minute Z2
10 minute recovery
10 minute cool down

Before I knew it I had a put together 60 minutes in my target zone plus 40 minutes of Z1 and because of the rests and intervals going by so quickly I didnt notice the total time fly by (well my sitbones felt the time go by). I also did it on my rollers and would ride out of the saddle to relieve my poor sitbones and between intervals I would practice riding no hands. I got that down and smooth now, but I dont dare move my arms around or take off a shirt yet.

I know there is a small contingent of early riders in the Heights so maybe I can get together with them soon to pound out some good training rides before my daughter goes to school. What will that take?? 5am wake up call??? Yikes-better get back to training!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pesky base miles

Mark Lopresto and I went out Saturday for an almost 4 hour ride. Not a big deal except it was pretty cold and we went out on our mountain bikes. Of course the sun went hiding as soon as we left the heights and only peaked out a few times the whole afternoon. When we started at 12:15 temps were about 26 and 20 when I rolled home at 4:15. A strong wind was out of the west, but further south west around Bedford it seemed to be blowing around every which way.

The great thing about the mountain bikes is they keep the speed low, but the effort up where youd expect to be on your road bike at a much lower wind chill induced bone chilling temperature. We stayed on the winding paths on the Bedford parkway and that adds a tiny bit more time and the curves again slow the pace.

We found an Arabica in Bedford and to the stares of the patrons inside we took a 20 minute break and had some decaf then headed home. Usually the 16 mile trip to this area takes me 55 minutes taking it easy. On the Monster trucks (as Mark calls them) it took over an hour and a half!! Great saddle or Chamois time as others call it.

Howd we fare? I called Thom who had commuted that morning and he said two balaclavas and that was key!! Well my fingers started to hurt as we rolled down Chagrin River Road to Shaker blvd and Marks feet were freezing by then too. But after getting home my hands and body needed only 5 minutes and I was back to normal. These rides serve multiple purposes. As Scott Saifer writes so well in Road Magazine riding in these elements in the winter prepares you for those hard races in crappy spring weather. Toughen up your mind!! For me too it got me out of the basement for the first time all week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday were 45 minute roller rides and Tuesday and Thursday were also 45 minute workouts on the fluid trainer. Not a lot of base miles and not too many calories burned too. I always feel guilty when I dont have some 800 to 1000 calorie burning rides per week.

Also as Mark notes and I have seen as well on my morning dog walks, many people commute by bicycle in the most awful weather every day. As we rode into the headwind into that frigid air the last 8 or so miles I told Mark that this pretty much blows away any excuses for me not to commute. Except cold rain and dangerous road conditions and the fact I actually do need my car at work some days (to carry large and/or heavy packages of generator parts to the post office).

So Mark needs to figure out the cold feet and I think I need to carry around those heat packs and drop them in my gloves after awhile. by comparison I had on one pair of Merino/nylon socks, regular shoes and shoe covers that dont cover the bottom of the shoes and my feet were fine. I could always hammer up every climb-that always warms up the hands, but that wouldn't fit my obsessive training regimen!!! Oh yeah-our frozen water bottles didnt hep on such a long ride. Luckily I had really hydrated pre-ride knowing my bottles would probably freeze. Maybe its time to get a hydration pack. Also we forgot to stoe the second bottles under our jackets-just dumb.

And talk about tough, my 5 year old daughter cross country skid for over two hours Sunday in single digit temps with the Hilltoppers. Now dont get all up in arms, she was bundled up like the kid in A Christmas Story and they took a break in the middle. I tried to ski a bit too, but I dressed to be an observer and I got so hot so fast all bundled up I had to stop every 100' to cool down. After two hours her hands were hot and she couldnt wait to get out of the snow pants. OH to have that 5 year old energy and resistance to cold!!

But wait, this just in form the blog of Brett Davis. I am so not worthy!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hear Yee, Hear yee

I have some pretty big news which I have been waiting to announce for awhile. Ive been stalling because while I am extremely excited about it, I also didnt know how to address how it all came about.

My big news is I now have a new coach for 2008. Many of you may know him from his Coaching Seminars at Bike Authority. His name is Sean Gilbert.

We are both looking forward to dialing in my TT ability and raising my game over the next few seasons. All the while still maintaining time for family and life.

Should I warn him that I am....uhhh how did Rick put it..."Kind of High Maintenance." Maybe I'll just leave that out. He already knows I am sure and if he doesnt, he will. Poor guy!!

I believe my previous coach Brent Evans and I left on amicable and mutually agreed upon reasons which I believe are our own to know. Okee Dokee?

Looking for a coach was really hard and making a final decision was even harder, but I know I made a great decision because were very alike in how we dissect each bit of info and feedback and try to see how it affects or affected performance. I thank those whom I asked for advice in this process.

In other news, I got word that the State Time Trial was going to adopt UCI Technical Guidelines for this year. The technical specifications called for measurements that threw my whole set-up out the window, or so I feared.

For example the tip of my saddle has to be 5cm behind the centerline of the axle. Well, my saddle had to go back 11cm to be legal. Not 11mm, 11cm!! Currently the State level Championships do not have to use UCI rules so I and others are scratching our heads as to why the adoption of the UCI rules. Hopefully I'll find out soon.

Mike Vanucci worked on my Cervelo P2SL for a long time dialing in the bike to be a UCI legal machine while still trying to maintain some of what I or we think worked for me last year. I know I am being a cry baby about this, but it SUCKS!! For me to be both aero as can be (and benefit from all of the stretching and off the bike exercises)and try to put out as much power as I have I now have to perch on the end of my saddles nose like you see the Pros do. Wow-thats a great rule there UCI. No wonder guys like Zabriskie and other pros have such great things to say about the rule makers. I will admit its a great rule for those tall guys with long femurs who ride on road bikes with 72 degree seat angles and set-back seat posts and stubby clip-ons on bikes with Look adjustable stems. But I'm not bitter.

Mike did a great job though and I went from that OH CRAP,Freakin out what am I gonna do feeling in the am to I can work with this by 2pm. Its only going to cost me a few hundred dollars (possibly) to find a saddle I can sit on the nose of comfortably for 50 some minutes that the tip is 5cm behind the bottom bracket and is only 24cm long thats short in the nose, but wide and well padded for comfort. There is this cheater saddle called the ISM Adamo that some time trialists and triathletes claim is awesome. But you got to admit-it takes some getting used to the design of!!

I better sign off for today....But thanks again to Mike Vanucci for his help today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sit-up, Roll Over, Now Sprint!!

I have had my rollers for two weeks or so. Great as you would expect being Kreitler's. I had borrowed a buddies 2.25" drum Dyna-mites during last winter and basically learned on them. I hated them so much (because they were so hard to ride) I didnt ride them much. He took them when he moved away. Hey Jodi!!

Anyways I bought these 3" rollers from Mark and liked them straight away. On a ride with Dave and Brooke she recommended I ride them with my fixie to really smooth out my pedal stroke. We also talked about sprinting on them, riding no hands, etc. I had trouble just taking a water bottle out of the cage at first or taking a hand off the bars without wobbling scarily, especially on the Dyna-mites.

My wife and daughter I think were actually scared for me when I rode them. But these rollers were so much easier. I no longer had to start with both feet clipped in holding onto a chair till up to speed, could take out and replace water bottles with ease after two rides on them and I can even reach into my back pocket to adjust my mp3 player. OH sweetness and getting smoother every ride.

This new found confidence lead me to believe I could start one foot on the ground on the fixie, but that lead to a topple and falling ungraciously into the bookshelf once. I now keep one of my wifes steps for aerobics next to me to start one foot clipped in. Maybe I'll try from the ground next time I ride my road bike. Two or three attempts at riding no hands were very scary!! So I stopped trying for now. Mark told me about his buddy in Texas who bunny hops onto and off the rollers to start and stop. Too funny!!

But look what daddy can do now!!

Now-how about this guy!!

Next,big air bunny hops, wheelies, trackstands, but for now Can I have a treat? WOOF, WOOF!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Calorie counter

Ah-haaa!! Finally back to a sensible diet and exercise and have lost 4 of the 6 lbs I gained in December. Also with the help of group ride discussions and the oh so knowledgeable Mark Lopresto I have started to eliminate a lot of "bad" foods in my house like HFCS and Hydrogenated oils. Coffee and beer stay-sorry!!

I read this on Velo News today and thought it helpful to those who want to try and calculate the calories burned and wattage without the use of a power meter.

Calorie Calculator

For me I think it overestimated power and calories, but at least it gives you a ballpark figure to work with.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teach-em a Lesson

What a ride today. Sunny and low 30's to start, but with a blue sky and lots of glorious sunshine. I headed to Thom's house and we headed out to Willoughby on the urban route for some Fixie Fun. I am getting more comfy on the Fixie and with the exception of maybe one on the road "duh" and trying to stop pedaling rolling down the driveway to clip in my left foot, my knees had a better day than any other fixie ride.

This being the 2nd 2+ hour fixie ride I am truly enjoying it. The pedaling, not the fixie culture thing. BTW-I use TWO brakes on my fixie. HAHA!! You can call me anything you want, but the brakes are staying. I like brakes!!

It wasn't long before conversation turned to what this driver did to Thom last night and the idiot I encountered on Tuesday. And then we got honked at by a driver on Ridge. Thom flipped her the lobster. Thats like the bird, only in a PI Lobster glove which I thought was hilarious. I can tell you this-you get flipped the Lobster-its hard to miss.

Then I am reading about Portland and how they are painting Bike Boxes to protect cyclists at intersections. The boxes are a NO GO zone for cars painted the same color as the bike lanes. In theory it should eliminate cars and trucks especially from running over cyclists as they turn right while cyclists either start or are stopped at red lights. I hope that explanation works. As you may know I have spouted off before about riding to the front of a line of cars at red lights. I don't do it (anymore), but I know lots of us do.

But for me, I try to be safe and aware while standing at lights. but I have most of my "oh crap, followed by bike rage" moments while riding as I should be on the right half of a lane.

Heres where I see the problem. I am excluding people who have anger management issues, hate cyclists, hate life, just got fired, having pms and are just plain STUUUUpid. The problem is drivers dont know the laws and how could they? So some take the "teach that cyclist the law" stance and without probably meaning to try and murderlize us, squeeeze us to the curb in an attempt to show us their interpretation of the laws regarding cyclists that they think they know.

The second issue is that I think many drivers actually think they are NOT allowed to cross the centerline to pass so they try and pass us in the same lane.

Heres my crazy thought to help alleviate this. I know its not practical, not very well thought out or possibly logistically doable, but its my idea and if used I think could help. ok, ok, ok, here it is.

Imagine a billboard of sorts that sits on the side of the road. It is a picture of a cyclist from behind that is placed about 3' from the curb and out another 6' or so would be a bright orange arrow pointing to the left. In bold letters the signs could say different things like "we hate you too", "Nice SUV, how much did it cost to fill your tank" or "If you hit me, I'll beat the snot out of you with my 6" carbon fiber bike pump" that ought to scare the drivers straight...Alright, I am joking about that.

But what it could say would be something like "Give cyclists this much room". Why you ask? Educate the drivers in a way thats real to them. This reminds me of the signs in construction zones to slow down and not kill the workers (who are someones mother or father). Same sort of thing. The board shows how to pass a cyclist correctly while the message tries to appeal to peoples better half (if they have one).

If this could be backed up by positive reports on the 6 and 11 news as well as drive time radio I think it could help. Anyways, it was just a thought I had while tooling home from the ride.

Friday, January 4, 2008

OH the Joy, OH the Pain!!

I went to Chapin again and found conditions just MARVELOUS, but what do I know. Again I watched others ski and tried to pick up a bit here and there. I kept running across the same tall guy who was just flying. He was doing loops in the time I could go about 500'. Believe me when is say I was being passed by grandma and her grandkids, but I didnt mind.

There is really something special and fluid about the Skate style of cross country skiing. I am glad at the young age of 42 I finally decided to try it. Its only tough because i am going it alone when I should wait for lessons. But I was really proud of how I got on with it today.

Chapin is so hilly that you end up climbing so much. The technique that i think is best suited to that is called Offset. Its fun to do and fun to watch someone good at it, but its a lot harder to climb then it looks. The people whom appear to me to have the technique mastered make it look effortless and the people trying to go fast make it look just that-Fast!!

The other technique (which I neglected to see the difference until tonight on YoutTube) is called One Ski and its for flat land. No wonder I struggled to ski on flats using offset. Well that and the fact I have all of 2 hours of practice in so far. I am sure later on I'll think about this post and go-what a dork!!

Now its been a few hours since Ive arrived home and the aches and twisted knee, etc. are starting to rear there ugly head. It might be time to pop a couple Aleve's. I skid for an hour and forty minutes, way too long for the first time. Boy am I going to be sore tomorrow.

Check out the video of a pro using One Ski till he hits the grade then switches to Off Set.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


How funny is this?? I was at Chapin today with Audrey (Dick was arriving as I was finishing up and I was talking to another cyclist this morning who was skiing at Chapin) and as I practiced the Skate stroke by myself, I saw a lady skate by with a pretty smooth stride and realized quickly I was doing it Wrong. Yes, I was pushing off with one leg instead of transferring my weight to my lead ski. I did get a little better after watching her. I need lessons.

I am learning without poles too which is supposed to help. Also my Swix CT-3 poles were too long and I hope my new poles come in the morning tomorrow so I can get to Chapin by early afternoon again.

Also, my daughter is a natural at Classic. Very fun to see. She seems to enjoy it, but I know she'll have even more fun when she does it Sunday with a bunch of other kids her age!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Down here for awhile

After reading others blogs I thought I'd post a pic of my workout room. New addition is a weight/sit up bench. I need a fan on a stand and some more lighting, but its very nice down here in my basement. My dream would be a home theater in here, but the way my house is the sound goes right upstairs and goes through the ducts to the second floor. Bummer!!

8am, no Lance

Clearly I am not ready for this!! 7:50am in my driveway before bailing on a cold, VERY windy and sleety ride. I rode the trainer instead.