Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Top 10 List

Well everyone else is doing their top 10 list for 2008 so I’ll take a stab at it, though 10 items might be a little extreme.

1. Racing Green the Team – I put together a team for the season with a goal to have fun, promote riding and utilize the bike to lessen your personal environmental impact. The team did good, especially given our small size and new entry to the sport (as a team). A couple of wins by riders and a middle of the pack team classification placing at Winter Park. More important were some of the extra things the team did, putting on an event in the community to promote riding that drew 25 people, we attracted some local press and the ride was pretty fun. Next year I’ll still do an event to get people riding, though probably not the team.
2. Bike to Work Day – Coordinated Bike to Work Day at my company had 50 people participate (out of 200 in Denver) a huge increase over 2007. Gave away some sweet prizes thanks to my personal (and team) sponsor Pedal Pushers
3. Racing – No break through results, or in reality any good results this year, but man I have fun racing. Getting out on trails, pushing myself, trying to compete with others it makes riding fun.
4. The Election – Man I’m a political geek and this was a year for geeks. A diverse set of candidates putting in serious bids, African-Americans, Latin Americans, and women, add in some divergent views and an electrifying candidate or two and this year was great for watching the electoral process.
5. Books – Damn I’ve been reading a lot this year, the most in years probably. If I didn’t spend so much time riding I’d probably sit around drinking, reading and getting fat. Bill McKiben, Charles Bukowski, David Sedaris, books on politics, books on Starbucks, environmental books, medical books, poetry and biographies.
6. Writing – All that damn reading got me writing again. Cool.
7. Drive by Truckers – Saw them live this summer, red neck rock and roll damn that was a fun night.
8. New Bikes – Two new bikes in 2008, Cannondale CAAD 9 road bike and Orbea Oiz mountain bike. Nice rides
9. Travel – Most of my travel in 2008 was for work, but I try to make sure to enjoy it when I’m out. Chicago is a new favorite. New York is cool but Chicago just fits me better. The one downside, airlines and delays.
10. Ade and Seamus – They support me in all this. The ride I put on was on Mother’s Day and they came and had fun. Long rides, days away racing always supported by my wife. Kicking back watching and talking about politics with the wife was great through the fall. A seven year old who is growing into a great and unique person. Trips to the zoo, museum and wherever else he wants to go, each day I see him grow, better himself and turn in to the person I want/hope he’ll become.

So there is my view of 2008 in 10 easy installments. Hope you had a good year and hope 2009 is even better.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Week 7

The week that wasn’t, as in minimal training, lots of eating and some relaxing. As promised I didn’t take my bike to Salt Lake with me, allowing for plenty of relaxation during the holiday. It is just too bad the weather didn’t cooperate with the relaxing. But first, quick totals from the training front; two rides for a total of 3:00 hours; two runs for a total of 1:00 hour; three yoga sessions for a total of 1:30 hours. Not a huge amount of volume but enough to make me feel like I didn’t lose any fitness and stayed on track. The riding came Monday (a trainer session early) and Sunday with a 2:00 hour ride.

On to the lack of relaxation, which can be wrapped up with two words both starting with W: windy Wyoming? We drove to Salt Lake on I-80 through Wyoming; leaving Monday night we got to the stretch between Laramie and our planned stopping point for the night of Rawlins in a dark snow storm with wind blowing about 50-60 mph. If you have never driven in these conditions try to avoid it, if you have you know the word relaxation is not possible. It took 2.5 hours to drive 100 miles, a stretch that during the summer is 1:15 to travel. The next day it was windy and snowy again from Little America (don’t get me started on a gas station that is a destination) to Salt Lake. After that travel a few days chilling at the mother-in-laws house was welcomed and allowed for a little relaxation.

Too bad we had to drive back. The good news this time is very limited actual snowfall; the bad news was even fiercer wind and plenty of snow on the ground to create white out conditions. At points you couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you and it went on like this for hours. We ended up calling it a day in Laramie because neither of us could (or wanted to) focus on driving). This morning more wind 60+ mph gusts but no snow causing white out conditions. We did see a total of 6 semis that had been blown over because of the wind; two between Rawlins and Laramie on the 27th and four just south of Cheyenne on the 28th.

The good news is we made it home safe and have vowed to never make a winter time drive to SLC again (that’s why there are airplanes). Tomorrow begins real work (bike wise) again, but I have another week off work to relax and take care of Seamus on vacation. If you’re in Denver and see us causing terror through town join in.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 6

Well the week that was was cold, snowy and busy, leaving minimal time for training. The good thing is it is months till the first races and a couple of weeks of shorter (or no) riding won’t be too bad. Prior to this week I had gotten in five solid weeks of base training. The reality is week 6 wasn’t all bad considering the other factors; I rode six days, put in a few hard efforts and didn’t burn myself out on the rollers by keeping the rides short.

The week started with a solid cold snap that caused the car battery to go out. With Ade sick and a car not working riding time was limited. This forced me to drive in (the cold, Ade being sick and the car issue) to get the car taken care of and make sure I was able to get to school on-time to pick up Seamus if needed. I of course also needed to finish my Christmas shopping which limits time, so life took priority and riding was on the rollers and night for short periods of time. Of my scheduled work I really only short changed the weekend long ride, as I had no desire to ride for 3-4 hours in the bitter cold, on ice ridden streets while drivers weren’t expecting to see a cyclist. Still I managed to get in 5.5 hours of riding and 1.5 hours of strength training during the week.

I’ve also officially started the holiday eating plan, consisting of way too many cookies, treats and food in general. I’m trying to make it through the end of the year with little to no weight gain so I can drop it quick in the beginning of the year. Since starting to follow the LW plan I’ve dropped 4 pounds and would like to drop another 5. If I can be conservative with food between now and the end of the year the last 5 should come off pretty quick. Of course there is one problem; I’m not really going to be working out this week so keeping the weight off may not be easy.

We’re hitting the road this afternoon for Salt Lake and will be gone for a week. If I manage to get in a total of 3 hours of any sort of exercise this week I’ll be happy. Long hours in cars and parties will limit that though, but I should be mentally fresh when I get back to start back with the training and finish up base training in style.

Hopefully everyone gets what they want from Santa this week. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life of the Rollers

Life on the rollers can be tough, the same view the entire time, no change of terrain, no wind to cool you off. I've got the basement set up with a tv, fan and music to make the time more tolerable but still it isn't the most fun riding conditions.

Here is my view for any time I put on the rollers, the tv, and fan and junk in the basement.

This is me sweating my ass off after about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Problem Solved

So I just hoped off the rollers for today’s ride and now need to decompress. Even if I wanted to go to sleep soon it just won’t be possible, any time I ride at night it takes a few hours to slow the body down and fall asleep. My normal routine is to go to sleep at a reasonable and get up and riding by 5 at the latest, especially this time of the year when a lot of riding is done on the rollers. If I’m riding by 4:30 to 5:00 I can get in 1.5 to 2 hours, take a shower and ride in the car to work with Ade. This lets me help get everyone out the door, get my big ride in and then lets me sneak in a shorter ride by riding the bike home after work (Ade gets off early for school pick-up).

This week the routine got messed up though with a rough Monday night and no energy to get up and ride Tuesday morning. So Tuesday’s ride was at night, causing today’s ride to be at night, which indicates tomorrow will end up being a night ride. Oh well, fit it in when I can.

I did try something new today with the rollers that worked pretty well, a towel under the rear rollers to create extra resistance. I stole the idea from Jeff K who was even nice enough to post a picture of his set-up for me. Rollers are great because they make you work on balance and think a little while riding. This is as opposed to a trainer where you are bolted in and there is no skill or balance required. The problem with rollers has always been getting enough resistance for hard efforts, but the towel did the trick. I was scheduled for 6x6 minutes of tempo riding and usually to get near or into my heart rate for this zone I’m in the biggest gear and spinning about 100-110 rpm. I haven’t been able to do any zone 4 or higher work on the rollers. Tonight zone 3 work was in the 53x16/17 which means I’ll have gears for zone 4 (not to mention more towels if needed). This little trick makes rollers work for nearly all indoor workouts (out of saddle sprinting is tough, I can do a few pedal strokes out of the saddle but it needs to be steady).

If nothing else checking out blogs gives a few ideas to solve problems like this. Thanks Jeff.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Week 5

Another week of base down, and one more until a week off for Christmas. I’m starting to feel pretty good from a conditioning perspective. Long rides are tough but not draining and all the work I’ve been doing with my core and yoga are keeping the body from having any pains.

In past years any ride over 2.5 hours or so would result in a stiff and sore neck/upper shoulder region. This year I haven’t had any of those issues and have to attribute it to the yoga. Each week I can tell I’m getting a little more flexible and even if it doesn’t help the cycling I’m feeling better overall.

The weather has made training easy thus far with only a bad day here or there; however, today we got hit by some snow (not more than 2 inches or so) and extreme cold. When I went out to the mall (Christmas shopping can’t wait you know) it was 4 degrees according to the car. At least the weather men called this storm right and I listened. I switched today’s scheduled long ride to Saturday and the ride scheduled for Saturday, which was suppose to be an off-road time trail with 20 hard minutes and only 1:15 total, got moved inside to the rollers. I still did the 20 minute effort, but on the road bike, no technical stuff to worry about and only rode an hour. So the good news is I roughly did the training I was suppose to, the bad news is the weather is suppose to be cold and snow on and off all week. I just hope it breaks enough by the end of the week to allow me to get in another long ride next weekend.

The major race series in Colorado (and nationally) have put out schedules in the past week or so. I’m starting to plot out the season, but it may be hard until I know what endurance race(s) I’m going to do. I’m planning on trying to register for the Leadville 100, but only 1,000 people get in so who knows if I’ll get a slot. If not I think I’ll do the Laramie Enduro which is a few weeks early and 40 miles shorter. Either way the training plan I’m on now should help as Lynda W is the endurance coach guru so she has a plans available for any type of race distance. I’ll know far enough in advance the race I’m going to do (mid February) that not know now won’t effect anything. Later the big race I’m doing may (will) affect the normal distance cross country races I do, but for now it is all about building aerobic fitness.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Training Time

Recently on a mountain bike forum ( there have been a lot of questions about how to fit in training and work and life and family etc. I also get this type of question a lot from friends. Well it gets down to motivation and figuring it out. A typical week for me of training looks like this:

Monday – easy day commute home from work
Tuesday – riding by 5 for at least 1 hour before work, ride home, yoga at home
Wednesday – same as Tuesday less the yoga
Thursday – up at 5 again; try to sneak in an extra 30 minutes (for a full hour) on the commute home, yoga at home
Friday – see Monday
Saturday – gone by 7 for a hard two hours
Sunday – gone by 7 for about 4 hours

Here I am on my way home from, you can see the staps of the backpack in black if you look close.

Towards the end of my ride home today, starting to get dark and the camera phone doesn't do me justice.

This schedule gives me plenty of time at home with the family, time for work and time to relax some. The one thing I don’t do that I should for training is sleep 8 hours a night, 7 is great, 6 realistic.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Week 4

Four hours of riding today, first climb up Lookout in a long time. Not fast (26:35) but steady and all Zone 3. Home by 11:30 if that gives you an idea how early I ride. Weekend rides can either be at a “reasonable hour” or long. I needed the hours so got out early. The weather was exceptionally nice so the early start was not a big deal. It was kind of a bummer though; I bought new polypropylene gloves yesterday for cold weather riding. I was thinking I’d at least get a little test time early today but no need for the cold weather gear.

Week 4 of training is now in the bag (not really yet, still need to do some yoga today). For the week I had a total of 10 hours of riding, and 2 hours of yoga. It being a recovery week on the schedule I’m happy with what I put in. I'm still working on aerobic fitness so no real hard work on the ride, which is actually harder than riding hard sometimes. Climbing at a pace slow enough to keep me in zone 3 takes some effort. Surprisingly though my time wasn’t much slower than an all out effort from previous years in December (only a handful of seconds slower than a December ride last year at a higher pace) so hopefully the work to build a good aerobic engine is paying off and I’ll get faster in the summer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sixty Degrees and Shorts in December

We’ve had some strange weather here in Denver the last few days. Wednesday night I was riding home from work in 18 degree temperatures, snow and wind. Thursday night the low was -5, yet the high on Friday was mid 40’s and all the 3-5 inches of snow seemed to melt. Today (Saturday) I went out for a ride in the afternoon, southeast of town and there wasn’t a drop of snow to be seen. I started out with leg warmers on and a long sleeve jersey and vest. Hidden in my pockets I had winter gloves, ear covers and a windstopper thermal jacket. I spent most of the two hour ride in shorts and a long sleeve jersey and it was perfect.

Here I am out on the ride, notice no snow on the ground.

A shadow in December?

Global warming in not about an overall warming of global temperatures exclusively (though that is a component) it is as much about extremes in weather. Going from -5 to 60+ degrees in 36 hours is an extreme change in the weather. Going from snow on the ground in December to not a trace in 24 hours is an extreme. Yes it was down right cold on Thursday and Thursday night, but the extremes that were shown are what global warming really is, not just the heat of today.

Did I enjoy the warm weather today, of course; two hours in the sun wearing shorts in December is something to enjoy. But the long term implications and concerns should remind all of us that snow and 40’s are pretty nice too.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hot Flat and Tough

I was at a doctor appointment with Ade yesterday and Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded got brought up. This is a book I read in late September and at the time thought it was an extremely difficult book to read, not because of content or language or the complexity of information it was trying to discuss, but because of how forlorn and depressed I felt after, as if it is already too late to make improvements to the current global environmental and economic crisis’s.

The doctor we met with brought up the book and seemed to have the same take I did on the book. The book is very important to discuss the importance of creating a truly alternative energy related power system the options are not readily available and nobody in a true position of power has done anything about the crisis. Does America need to lead on the renewable energy forefront, and if so what can or will we do? I think yes we should lead, and hopefully inspire others. My fear is we will not and by the time we react, when the crisis is beyond repair (think the banking bailout or the auto industry situation) it will be too late to save the world.

Don’t wait for the government to act, don’t wait for the difficulty of reading Friedman’s book to change to the difficulty of making change. This site originally started as a way to help people lessen their environmental impact, please do your part. Ride your bike to work, use cloth shopping bags, drive less, and eat local.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Week 3

With Thanksgiving hitting in the middle of week 3, family visiting from out of town and weather finally hitting Denver I figure any miles I put in last week were a bonus. Not to mention I’ve learned a little for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I did mange to get in 11 hours of training total, including a good mix of riding, yoga and running (yes I competed in a running race). With all the food and drink I enjoyed I probably didn’t lose any fitness, but probably didn’t gain any either.

Since Sunday was suppose to be nice and Seamus had a play date all afternoon I had planned on putting in my long ride that day, unfortunately the weather turned into a snow day and my motivation to spend 3-4 hours riding in the snow (after spending 2+ on Saturday in the snow and cold) just wasn’t there. I ended up hoping on the rollers for about 90 minutes and did an unscheduled tempo workout that felt pretty good. Three days of tempo work in a week should help to build some fitness in the future, at least I hope it does. The real big training effort of the week was on Thursday when I ran the Turkey Trot in Denver. Me, my sister-in-law and 10,000 of our closest friends made for a fun event. Trying to pick my way through the crowd was tough, the first mile to mile and half were crazy. Having started towards the back of 10,000 people I was trying to catch up to the SIL to run with her. By the time I caught her we were at mile 3 of a 4 mile race so I didn’t spend a lot of time running with her, but we both had good races. I finished in 32 minutes and she finished in 36 (crossing the line at the same time but different finishing times because of chip timing). Considering I’ve run about 5 times all year I was pretty happy.

The main thing I took out of this week though will be used in December: take off when around family. So I won’t be taking the bike to Salt Lake for Christmas and will try to run a little if I can, if not no big deal. December is a long way from any races and the recovery will allow me to dig into training starting in January.