June 2015: a plan forms of 2016.

Writing this in June as a progressive planning phase to state the focus of what I want to do. I must admid things have been going well. I’m riding more, not trying to crush it in speed the whole time. I feel now that if I did, I could replicate one of my rides from this time last year and soundly be much faster. I’m thinking about next year. About cross this fall and using that for race fitness and as a platform to begin the winter training. The season ends for me the first week of December, and that’s a perfect time to really hit the weights the right way and build that strength to begin with. Whatever muscle is left after the power and speed work is what I’ll have to use for the 2016 year. I would like to see what a focused approach to the April Boulder-Roubaix race would be like. So, my thoughts move towards some sort of a plan that would work for me. I can’t afford a coach but reading is free.

First of all, I’m a big guy. Not a fatty but I have quite broad shoulders and stand a fraction below six foot three, not enough to change six-three on my drivers license. To make a fitness plan, I need to look at what problem areas I have.

  1. I am aerodynamically limited by how far I can lean forward. The pros like LeMond are able to be almost entirely flat over forward. If they can move their hip flexor high enough to where their knees hit their shoulders and their feet spin forward then thats awesome an they will be fast. I am not. My right hip is very tight so I am limited in how far I can set the handlebars. I cant drop all the way. I need to improve that flexibility. Yoga stuff and Danielson’s book will help me drastically in the winter.
  2. I am heavier than a typical cyclist because of my broad shoulder area, so I have more volume of me, not to mention my layer of hill climb robbing blubber. I could probably be a good sprinter as I might have a larger chest cavity and some strength of size. I need to lose weight and that will come from the training. What I cannot do is be an awesome climber like a 125 pound featherweight. Speed and endurance is where I can do something and perform possibly long pulls or long range attacks. I will have to seriously consider the training for such work. Time-Trial training with some sprint work?
  3. Age and previous injuries. Not many but I’m 41. I will never be at a 35 year olds level but I can still become impressive. Who knows. But I can’t put myself in injury for this season of training and any previous injuries will impact anything I try to do now. I might not be the best possible in some areas from that.

Pragmatism: (realistic thinking)

A look at the world cup cyclists and their training programs show years of constant training. Understandable. After all the pro rider peaks in their late late twenties and early thirties. A body builder does not achieve their incredible mass and shape from one year of lifting. It takes years to build a physical machine. The same goes for a professional cyclist. It’s the annual cycles of competition and training that eventually grow them to that peak point at 29.

Here is how they do it. December-begin weights and gym work. This also migrates over time in to base miles of spinning easy for a thousand or more miles and miles or more before zone and power meter training for power and endurance. This last part takes all year for someone who is not a pro and by the end of the summer, they will be at their best shape. The idea is to go back in to the December month with a top notch cardio system and a worked lean power system and reset the training. So whatever progress is made is on top of the previous progress. A pro has the time to train enormous volumes of work. After all they are working forty-hours a week as this is their job. Just training. 400+ miles of riding every single week. Who can do that with a regular job? They begin again in the winter, spinning easy again for the base building but hit weights again. Start big and strong and then build power from that. Many years of that cycle builds the peak athlete. Everyone needs to try that sometime but the volume won’t be anywhere close. So the result of competition won’t be close.

Fabian cancellara is an example. He is immensely strong and a big guy who can win a classic race like paris-roubaix. His big win was with huge endurance power outrunning Peter Sagan. Coming out of a dip in the road he leaned forward and time trailed him to death. Pounding out the big pace, we saw Sagan out of the saddle to try to remain in his draft but didn’t have the tempo power required. Sagan is a big sprinter with 1700 watts on tap for a 43mph sprint when he needs it but he didn’t have a slightly slower fast cruise pace to use so he was in more of an all or nothing position. But Cancellara can outlast him on a long range attack. Sagan fell back unable to match the TGV locomotive like cruise he put down. He won.

He can also dead lift 450 pounds which is a full body move for the strongest of lower backs, a part very much overlooked in the cycling mechanics. The whole core is from the neck, shoulders and down to the knees. A strong core will prevent pain and injury but also prevent cycling muscles from being used for body stability instead of powerful speed. I need to plan this. I went from 240 pounds and unable to keep up with a double hip replacement retired detective to an ability to sprint a half mile at 30mph in eight months. I know I can do much much better than that if I plan ahead. Nobody can deadlift that in only a year. Again, he trained a decade of cycles to achieve that level. Who really has that time? A pro. I’m not that.

So, what to do? Danielsens core book is the best start for me. Sticking to it will be the challenge. That will balance out the initial core work and then weights to really build the strength of the fast twitch muscles and the rest. At one point I was jumping ten reps at a time holding 30 pound free weights. I am now up to free weight squatting 50’s and will soon begin jumping with those instead over the winter to 2016. Once cross ends in the first week of December, I will begin heavy strength building and easy miles of two hours at a time during my trips.

So, the plan….can I maintain this enthusiasm? I think it depends on how work and cross interface.

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May 2015: It won’t stop raining!

I can only ride every Thursday. That’s about it. Work is primary and I only get hotel fitness for the other days. So, every tim I ride, there’s rain cells, thunder, something going on that I have to return home for. At this point i’ve been riding and diong general work to keep in shape but i’m not seeing anything change and improve. But, I AM STRONGER.

Free-weights are all I really have so now I use the 50’s. I used to use the 30’s and in the hotels, the 50 is the biggest they have. I figure I can use those for a few sets of ten sqats but when they start to feel light, I’ll just start building power and do twenty squats per set, if not jumping with them for the fast twitch muscle work. The exercise bike is usually a recumbent with a big fat seat for, well, not healthy sized people. I spin where I can and lift where I can. I’ve started to add running back in, of course if the hotel treadmill isn’t slipping or broken. I’m getting discouraged again. The good news, is my friend who moved to the area has a baby on the way and is excited for that but just ass much, excited for all the time he will have to ride and train and race. Also, we get to ride together on occasion. When he moved in, I invited him to ride with the club and it worked out. He really liked them. They’re very easy going and non-elitist. Just right.

Speaking of elitism in clubs and whatever, I happened upon a group of riders coming the other way. No wave back. No friendly gestures understanding that we’re all out on a hot day getting in the miles and not working 9-5 like everyone else that isn’t on the road. Nope. I do her a little bit of their conversation when they pass. They were in shape. In gear that meant they were possibly a semi-sponsored local club of enthusiasts.

“….yeah….but it was super-aero…”

Off they went on the other side of the road toward where I used to be. It’s now a thing I joke about. Just dropping in the phrases out of nowhere, “Dude that’s so aero! Carbon…carbon yeah…” I could utter it like rain-man when things get too quiet in a group. carbon. super-aero dude. aerooo…

Guys use my CAAD-9 in Cat.3 criteriums and win and the only thing they have are deep rim wheels, sometimes no-names from china. Time-trial guys prove that the benefits of Aerodynamics are mostly from rider position and planning ahead. But, whatever sells. What would sell a bike to me would be a compliant comfortable frame that has absolutely zero power loss on a climb or sprint. Make that bike and I’ll be there but the aero portion is nowhere near the top of my list right now. It’s weight and endurance power.

Apr.11, 2015: The Boulder Roubaix race

I did it. I signed up and competed. My performance wasn’t horrible, just the start was. I began my eighteen miles of racing, already several minutes behind. This race coincided with the classic European race, The Paris-Roubaix, and it was deigned to mimic some of the terrain. We don’t have cobble stones. We have some dirt roads and rolling terrain. So, 53% of it was dirt roads where some washboard portions couldn’t be avoided.

Why did I start behind? I wasn’t dropped. I believe the starter let everyone go a minute early but honestly, I should have been to the line ten minutes prior. I was not. I was getting my numbers pinned on for the first time ever in my life in a parking area nowhere near where we could hear the announcing for groups and other things going on. I had no idea I was getting late. Besides, I ate up enough time trying to use a porta-john in full cycling gear. Everyone else has that problem too and the line gets a bit long when everyone had coffee that morning.

So, the race?

18 miles, nearly 17mph average and a heart rate for the whole distance of 170…average. It hurt. Here’s how much it hurt.

I recorded ZERO time at anything below 150 beats per minute. I spent 41% of the time at Tempo between 150-168 and 59% of the time between 168-187. For four seconds i was over 187. That absolute peak of 192 was seen on the first paved section where I knew I could perhaps make up some distance. It made no difference. they were all drafting along anyway probably cruising as fast as I was at full power due to their aero advantage.

But that was a solo effort too. If there was a pack of us that I was in, I wouldn’t have worked so hard. Looking at the times in the end, The gap between myself and the others was easily inside how late I started and working a draft, definitely is worth time over that distance.

I was mid to back third of the pack pace and fitness of a Category-5, over-40 group. (old beginners)

Now, this doesn’t mean everyone is new and slow. It just means everyone is new to racing. There were plenty of seriously fast guys who just never raced before in this group. The winner averaged 24mph for those eighteen miles over half dirt roads. Finishing fifteen minutes faster than I did. Cat.5 is where we learn to race. Competing with people equal to your fitness comes later in cat.4 and the better you do the more you move up until you can’t get points anymore and never improve to the next cat. level. Category two guys are near professionals. Most serious competitors with normal jobs settle in around category 3 and sometimes two if they have the time to train enough.

Time to train. This was April 11th and I had lost five weeks, pretty much all of February, of training. That’s a whole segment of power work lost. Intervals of VO2 max and threshold work would perfectly have fit in there. Those two things will build that bigger gas tank, to be a faster cruise missile for longer range and perhaps have some kind of sprint power in there to make a move if anything for position. I did not have that. I lost the chance. I just crushed my own way to the end and felt pretty bad driving home in the end for it being 9:30am. I ate a banana on the drive home.

Racing sucks when combinations of being a first timer intersect with an event not really thinking about what the first timer has to learn on the spot for an 8:30am start.

Lesson learned.

March 13, 2015: 41 days later, I ride. I’m okay.

So, I can finally ride again. The problem is, Whatever I was like at the end of last summer, I am nothing like that now. Talk about a cardio hit, holy crap. The end of 2014’s ride to the reservoir should have signaled to me how much i’m sliding back. the heart rate is up. this ride, I kept it in check. I didn’t need anything punishing. I needed training miles. Eh, It’s not textbook but I got in miles and didn’t feel worn out. Definitely not 100% aerobic.

33mi, avg:14mph, avg HR:148, max 180

So, a friend of mine from work has spent the winter going crazy with a training coach and trying to do things right. He spent one hundred hours just spinning easily on rollers and was working into his next level of power training after that. He just moved out to the area as well and I now have someone from work that’s in the area to ride with when his schedule matches mine. He is on fire this year and working to see as much progress as possible. He is already much faster than I but he also weighs fifty pounds less.

Other news, it’s interesting at this point to see others in this sport and their motivation. In the first post, the person who introduced me to how fun this is, is now experiencing some doubt. Last year he fell the day before a race and got bumped up pretty good on the hip and then a bit later got honked at pretty good on a group ride when traffic was getting a bit thick. With two little kids and safety a concern he started loosing the drive to get better. He was competitive and one of the faster guys in the club. The motivation wasn’t just to ride it was to be good at it. Anyway, the kids in BMX racing is his focus now and it’s turning out great! Good for the family as well when everyone’s into it.

Me. I don’t know. Let’s see how this year goes.

February-15: Oh my tortured fitness. Soul-less evils against me.

Did you catch that in my last post? An illness I wanted to kick? Well, let’s talk about that and after. I got a pretty horrible sinus thing in the last part of January. After that post, I started to feel somewhat better because I had to call off sick for work. Flying a pressurized plane with bad sinuses is just asking for disaster. Given how hard we’ve been run lately with reschedules and max schedule assignments, I was actually enjoying being home and sick more than being healthy and at work flying jets around the country. What the hell?

Anyway, I tried to ride twice in there when I felt better. I read an interview online with a cycling coach about illness. He wouldn’t let his clients ride until they felt better. But, the day after they felt better. The body feels so good on that first day you will ride yourself into sickness again. It’s a healing day. Give yourself time and when you do ride, go light. Very light. Well, I really had no idea where my condition was so I rode light the second time. Blah.

Sick for three weeks is terrible. I went to work the third week of it and was alright but I was in no condition to throw weight around or pound out intervals on a crappy stationary recumbent. Four weeks with out anything, and I can finally get to work.

Edmonton Canada. Free weights, a treadmill, and four stories of stairs. Acceptable, I can get something done. The third dip into my second set of ten free-weight squats and my right knee gets really burning hot.

Fuck.

I drop everything and slowly walk around. No pain walking around. Everything feels normal. Any weight on it and I feel that hot ache. I warmed up didn’t I? I stretched. I started in on Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage. It’s good. It’s very good. Everyone has thirty minutes somewhere i their day to do it and no weights are involved. Results are felt immediately but the user has to keep doing it. Anyway, back to my knee.

I went to the staircase and started walking up the stairs. I gave one good hop up and there was no effing way I would be able to do anything with this knee. I went to my room and fifred up the Google. The quadriceps tendon attached the quad to the front of the kneecap. The pain I felt and when decoded meant I aggravated it but did not tear anything.

One day later I was in Pittsburgh. I wanted to see where the knee was on a bike machine. Nope. I couldn’t pedal without feeling little bits of heat. The day later I was laying over in Washington D.C., where I felt quite good and decided to try the squats again with a reduced load and see where I was. Dip one-good. Dip two-just a basic ache from a sore muscle anyone feels in exercise. Dip three-Campfire in my knee. Not as horrible as before but enough to make me curse in the gym and lightly limp out. My earbuds were in and I forgot others were there too.

The next week, I began to pedal again in Pittsburgh and found that if I was going slow on no resistance, around 65-70 rpm, I was just fine. Anything faster and the pain came on. I quit. Another week.

FIVE WEEKS OUT and I can finally do something again. The knee is fine and it’s nearing the end of February. I could finally get some work done-at work!

Jan.30, 2015: Thoughts on the Last ride of 2014 and ahead.

It’s been a while since the last ride. I’m 41 at this point and we know from the previous entry how theres just not been much motivation since one of the primary reasons I did all of this got taken away by terrible work-travel-commute schedules. Regardless, I went out and got on some exercise. Back to the resivoir.

I didn’t feel quite like I was pressing too hard or anything until the last ten miles or so. I will say that continental gatorskin tires are definitely heavier than the gp4000sii’s I’ve been using this summer. Its amazing how a hundred or so grams of weight of tire can make a huge difference with accelerating that whole wheel. I could feel it. This is a training tire for lasting distance and road rubbish and whatever is out there short of mountain trails and even then, you might be okay. So its heavier to resist puncture and road debris of the winter season.

Somehow, despite being probably twelve pounds heavier I set a personal best record of the climb up the switchbacks to get to the resivoir level. I had no idea until I got home. Of what I also had no idea, was how high my heart rate pounded that whole time. I Averaged 160 bpm for pretty much the whole ride. That’s not training. That’s abuse.

So, 44 miles later, id call it a successful year overall. It would have been nice to get some of those cross races in, but I guess there were other plans for me. I cant understand what those are and Id like to punch the plan makers in the face but I have to look forward.

I put in over a thousand miles this year of riding a bike and if I were to include some sort of conversion factor for the exercise bikes in hotels, that might be closer to 1,500 or possibly quite a bit more. Including a few months of last year it could be nearly 2,000. Not so bad. So, how about the future?

I looked at the calendar of events. It would be nice to ride with a group in club rides or some competitive events wouldn’t it? Just for once or something, have an event that doesn’t conflict with work. You see, I don’t work 9–5, m-f, but all events are scheduled just like if I did work normal hours. Just like normal people do. Some of us cant ever get a break. I tried to take a fencing class when I lived in Buffalo, NY, however the classes were in blocks of 4 Thursdays at a time and of course I would miss one or two of those due to schedule. If I started an athletic club for non standard working types, and walked in the door, there would be two or three people sitting on the floor drinking, “there’s not enough to start a game…have a drink.”

Thats what I’m up against. So, what do I train for? For the kids, the wife, the family, my health, my mental attitude for the most part at this point. But I do want to do something in a group. Im kind of tired of not having regular friends to meet with…regularly. This job sort of prevents that. The regular ones I have from work all live in different towns in different states and I only see them once every few weeks or months during a plane swap. I get out of my plane and walk to the next one. “Hey Dave! What’s new?”

“Oh I have two kids now.”

“Really? You didn’t have any last time I was you.”

Yeah.

That’s not a way to be. Dave in Detroit cant really swing by the house in Colorado to see whats up. So, hopefully ill find myself with some better trips that might allow some action here at home. There’s the occasional time trial series and some possible road races to get in on. Nothing serious, just part of a local points series that aren’t crazy big events. It might be a good time for everyone at an event if the kids can handle the area…and if the wife can handle them as well during something like that, but they are not yet two and not yet six.

So, we shall see. I have a decent beginning now, if I can just kick this cold and start riding again. In reality, its the end of January 2015, and I haven’t ridden since that resivoir trip. Time to begin again. The first real events that I might be able to even think about wont be until March. So that gives me two months to blow out my legs on weight bearing squats and lunges and put on some easy miles where possible. I have to ride smart. I can’t go kill myself right away or the body wont learn how to be efficient.

I think climbing is the next skill to work on this year. That and a 100 mile ride. Id like to do that on my own on a nice full Thursday after a trip. That’s about the only full day i’ll have for myself. Get home, get on the bike, return home one hundred miles in the bag. Eat a whole Turkey.

So, shifting to the 41st chain ring. May it pull strong.

I’m 41. Now I’m thinking about things.

Nov. 12, 2015

Here we are, I just had birthday number 41. I was knocked off my motivation in the month of May. Since then I’ve been on a ‘reduced’ track to success. I did get stronger but the cardio did not improve and, in fact, reduced itself slightly. I did longer rides and my ability increased, but gaps in the hotel work or changes in weather crept in. May first of 2014 had my scale clock in at 199 pounds. That’s forty pounds in eight months. My ultimate goal of fifty was very achievable but would be difficult. I was building muscle as well and to shave off that extra fat was slowing down. That’s how it works. I entered vacation time. I got to ride some. More than usual but i lost the weight room from the work schedule. I also gained eating bigger meals at home and lets not forget how a trip back to a food capitol works. I ate through Buffalo New York. Pizza so good, you want to roll in it and absorb it that way. Donuts as big as your head. Wings and pasta. All great to eat and power through on the next ride but there were no bikes and only roads that would generate an accident should I find a way to ride them. I have never seen such red light running supported by police than in this city. If it just turns red thats a perfect moment to hit that intersection turning left.

I returned home up five pounds. Big deal. A big ride and responsible food after will see me chew that up in a few days. Weather changes kept me off the bike for a few weeks at a time on my days off. I started to question why I was doing this. I like ring a bicycle. I like doing that with people. I cant very well ride with people if they’re working when I’m off. If they’re riding while I’m out of town flying. I didn’t get in to this for the purely solo anti-social possibility. Every time it looked like a good time to ride was ahead, something was in the way. A sick kid, a wife who also needs her own exercise program, or weather and work. Very little time exists for someone who travels for work.

I bought the cross bike. I intended to fully get prepared an ready. My schedule comes out and all of the events for the season are impossible to attend. I leave Saturday afternoon to travel to work and if the races are in the morning, I have enough time at home that day to take a shower, kiss the family and leave. Perhaps next year the commuting schedule will be different.

The Fuji Cross comp hangs in the garage with 33 miles on it since I fit it all up. All ridden in wet weather. Its clean and ready. December could be possible to race it. I could sell both bikes and get a nicer carbon roadie. I could sell both bikes and restore a car I haven’t done anything with. Nah. I really shouldn’t back down from this. when I do ride I like it and I’m pretty good at it. I need it for when I need it. Theres quite a bit left in me to see what I can become even beyond my 41st year.

Where do I sit now? Take a look at my previous entry about the big climb and the rain storm. If there is indeed another fifteen pounds to be lost, the climb performance will only improve dramatically. If I get to that point, my cardio system will be substantially better as well. I can ride sixty miles now before needing to fill the bottles an stock up on more food. If it’s aggressive climbs, that becomes forty-five perhaps if I can stay out of the red. I was planning on riding a century ride, one-hundred miles. How many people in the world can say they rode a hundred miles on a bike? Where I live everyone can say that but when I mention a thirty five mile ride to folks from where I grew up in Missouri, they choke. “What? Jesus you’re insane.”

I was ready for that hundred miles, given the right support of a food or watering stop.

Its possible for me. I could do that now perhaps. But id like to get a decent forty mile ride in first. I haven’t been on a bike in five weeks and I’m probably fooling myself in what I can and can’t do at this point. The weather was actually too cold, or the family required actual family-time in a rented cabin in the woods or the schedule became so compact from said family needs that nothing could be done. I have to sit down once in a while for everyone else’s sake. Riding fifty miles takes three hours. Thats time away from the honey do list I’ve been ignoring a bit. Im only maintaining the muscles now, but not too well. So I suppose birthday number 41, with forecast weather of twenty four degrees and a wintery mix outside, signals a start of the second chapter of this. To find a way to finish, It’s gonna take longer than planned. Everything does. Restoring a car, writing a book, loosing weight, building an airplane. That last five percent takes ninety percent of the work.

Never fails, or as one person said about being a test pilot in the sixties, “There was never nothing wrong…”