Archive for March, 2011

Running up that hill

29 March 2011

If life was meant to be easy, there would be no need to get out of bed in the mornings. And, we would have a TV in the bedroom. However, we don’t have a TV in the bedroom and we don’t like an easy life. We strive to do better and we strive to do more than yesterday. Many days we fail but we always get up the next morning armed with the same intent. There’s no sleeping till after noon in this house!! 😛

The CTS training is tough. I could easily go through life without doing. Last Thursday I found it really hard going. The third and fourth interval I struggled to keep up the the correct cadence and sought an easier gear. An easier gear means cycling faster to achieve the same power output. The objective is to have a certain output with a certain cadence. There is not much room for slippage so there is probably only one gear that will give that output. Moving to an easier gear inevitably meant I was not going to meet the objective but my objective for last Thursday changed and I just wanted to to finish the session without quitting. I was happy with the changed objective as quitting is no option.

Today’s session was easier. It was still tough and I was pushing hard during the last interval but I was not flagging from the second interval as I was Thursday. The distance travelled today was further than Thursday but not as far as last Tuesday. I am questioning last Tuesday’s stats as I was cycling with Alma’s profile on the computer so not too sure if that made a difference to power output. It’ll become more obvious the more rides I do on the bike.

My first hilly brevet is not until the end of April so it will be interesting to see how I do on that. I have not done the Princeton 200k as one ride but I have done the whole route on two separate rides. Adamic Hill Road is the big one and I didn’t find it that bad last year when I did it on a short 80km. When I say not that bad, I meant I was expecting worse. It was pretty steep. I want to see how I climb it this year and with a whole month of CTS training behind me I may actually enjoy it. 🙂

I think one more ride this week on Thursday. I need to change saddles before that and will be writing to Specialized as I have never had markings on my bum like I have from Sunday’s ride!

Shy boys only win coconuts

27 March 2011

Training for the PBP is a lot of mental preparation. The physical side requires a lot of training but the only way I know to prepare mentally for it is to toughen my wimpy self up. This winter seems to have dragged on and on. It has affected my training and there have been days where I have not gone outside to cycle. However, with the first 200k brevet just seven days away, I cannot afford any more slippage. Today’s scheduled distance was 80km and even though I wanted to cut it short, I knew I couldn’t afford to. At least it was going to be a flat ride.

Before I left out of the house, I was starving and with nothing appropriate to eat, I grabbed a handful of candied ginger pieces and gobbled them down. Not sure if that was a good move as I felt like barfing a couple of times later on. Anyway, I got to 347 and saw a nice northerly wind. I was going to have a cross wind for forty miles and a nice head wind for a couple of miles as I crossed from 25A to Sound Avenue. I kept smelling food as I passed by all the fast food places. I kept seeing 99c Sausage Biscuits signs on every 7-11 I passed too. Hardly conducive to my low carb diet but I didn’t care. However, I did care enough to not stop and purchase anything. Another suck on the propel water was good enough to freeze my stomach into quietness.

I need to look at the map. I felt like I was going into a Westerly wind on the way back even though whenever I saw flags, they indicated a northerly wind. It wasn’t until I got to Southern with only two miles to go that I had a tail wind.

My legs felt heavy at times. This has persuaded me to only do one CTS session this week as I prepare for the 200k. I need to change saddles. I will switch the saddle with the Trek. This was the longest ride on the Specialized so far and the saddle does not feel comfortable enough for a long ride. I know I can get around with the Trek saddle. The saddle I won last year for sure is not appropriate. I am now in the market for a new saddle. Research begins. I am also in the market for a new drysuit and I found the one I want to get after the PBP has been completed. But that’s not about cycling so won’t be expanded on here. 😛

The Yoga Thursday Run

24 March 2011

Thursdays are yoga days. When Alma doesn’t go, I cycle there. It is only ten minutes to get there so not too challenging on the old legs. The yoga feels wonderful and when those hamstrings are stretched, it is the most delicious of things. This Thursday coincided with a CTS training day. I haven’t blogged about them yet (I will) but during yoga, it was great to feel all the heaviness of the legs being drained. It was like turning on a tap. However, coming back along Townline, I was thinking of going out again in the morning but the further I went along Townline, I felt the energy in my legs disappear and reverted back to the idea of two days rest now. Next ride on Sunday and I have to change my schedule to incorporate the twice weekly CTS. With the first brevet next wekeend, I may only do one CTS next week. I’ll see how I am on the Sunday ride to see how I will be the following week.

Swirling balls of grit

10 March 2011

It was windy this morning. As I was putting on my boots and gloves in the kitchen, I looked up and saw the tree branches moving wildly in the wind. Yikes. I couldn’t discern from which direction the wind was coming from but I could see that it was strong.

I left the house, taking the new bike this morning, and set off on the 30km route I did Tuesday morning. As soon as I turned on to Smithtown Blvd, I could tell the wind was against me. That kind of meant it was not until I got to Vets that I would not get any benefit.

The trouble with wind, apart from it crushing the power in your legs, is that at this time of year, there is a lot of salt on the roads. I was cycling up Portion Road, on the new bike lane, no less, and I saw a golden ball of dust and sand coming towards me. I tucked my head in and felt the particles scrape across my cheeks. My face is the only exposed part of my body so it was the only place I felt it. Fortunately, it was the only occurrence of this.

After cycling down Patchogue Road and Broadway, I was on to Vets. Here, I thought I would get the benefit of the wind behind me. Nope. I could not feel it. I wasn’t sure which way it was coming from. But then I crossed Ocean and now I could feel the wind behind me. I was pushing 26mph going along Vets as I made my way to the Interstate. Now that’s the type of cycling I like!!

When I found myself back on Townline, I was back into the wind again and I toiled the last couple of miles. All in all, it was a nice ride and made even nicer with the new bike. I nearly beat the virtual buddy home. But poor Trekkie. At least I will go to Yoga on Trekkie tonight.

Gradient Training – oof, sep

9 March 2011

Ok, I got the indoor bike so I could practice slopes living on Long Island. Every time I am due to do a 20km ride on the bike, I am doing it indoors. I breakdown the ride into 2 miles at 5% gradient followed by 1 mile at 2% gradient and then back to 5%. After 12 miles, I do one mile staying in the 2% gradient.

It wasn’t too bad except for the last mile at 5%. It started to get tough and when I tried increasing the cadence to make the distance go quicker, I found myself running out of juice. I wanted to give up and either change the slope or change to a lower gear but I resisted the temptation. The distance does skip the occasional 1/100 of a mile but it is not like it is skipping 1/10 so it is a minor thing.

I tried setting up a workout using Cycleops poweragent software. It is terrible, or at least, I cannot figure it out. I tried setting up an interval and when I went to change the slope and the distance, there was no way I could “enter” the data. I tried pressing tab and return, clicked a few other buttons but nothing seemed to work. I did see a java error icon at the lower right of the form which was complaining about some null pointer so it may be that. Whatever it is, it is a pretty basic error and I have written to them saying after spending so much on the bike, I expected software that worked.

Anyway, the precedence has been set on my indoor training and I can only do the distance quicker. Right? 🙂

Gripping my horse!

8 March 2011

Darned mechanical bits!! Three miles into the ride my saddle decides to play up and allows my fat derrière to shift the angle. Instead of it being slightly tilting downwards to the front it shifts angle completely and points to the sky and tilts backwards. This has the effect of moving my bum backwards thus adding a greater force to the rear of the saddle which results in re-inforcing the desire for the saddle to point to sky. I get off the bike in order to fix it. Not wanting to move, I have to get my allen keys out, remove the saddle bag and then undo the screw to allow me to switch the saddle back. With two pairs of gloves on, it wasn’t easy.

I eventually get it done and start cycling again. A couple of miles further down the road, or perhaps a different road, I feel the saddle shift again. SLy old dog that it is, it only shifts a couple of degrees but it is enough for me to feel and notice. Then another couple. Then another. Eventually, it is very noticeable but it seems to have reached a point where it stopped shifting. I decided I could live with it.

Nicely protected form the northerly wind, I eventually come around to Vets which is slightly uphill but a fast road nonetheless. Not today! With the saddle making me shift my weight backwards, this is definitely the wrong posture for climbing. It gets steeper as I approach the railroad track before I-495 and I begin cursing the saddle. After the Interstate, the road climbs again before beginning a nice descent. I find it easier to stand on the pedals but a red light puts paid to that idea. I reach the top and begin my descent. I am on Townline now and have only one little climb before the reaching my home street. What an uncomfortable ride it had been. Poor Trekkie!!

All the while, I am thinking of my yoga class as I grip my horse. Emily would be proud of me!!

First ascent of 2011

5 March 2011

Today I climbed the hill up Port Jefferson. I was probably not ready for it but I wanted to see how the Specialized bike performed on the hill and it was dry out. I took a new route to get to 25A rather than going along Lake Ave all the way. Lake has loads of potholes so it is not a pleasant road to ride along. The new way took me along Terry Road, on to 25 and then on to 25A. It’s a mile longer as it is less direct but it is a better ride.

The temperature was mid range between cold and not cold. Not sure what to wear clothing-wise, I opted for two layers and the windbreaker. One layer would not have been enough and three would have been too much. As it turned out, two layers was just about right.

The Specialized bike did well. There are a few little climbs on the way to Port Jefferson so I tried the range of gears. I noticed that it was not a clean exchange climbing back on to the larger sprocket at the front. That is something I need to point out when I take the bike back for its first service. I need to use it more else it is not going to be worthwhile having a service. I’ll see if I can use it all week. One thing that has been noted is the two little wheelies I did on the way up from Port Jeff. That could be because I was pulling back on the handlebars more than I normally would have done or it could be because the bike is lighter. I’ll keep a note of that over the next few weeks.

The climb up was not too bad. I made sure I was in a low gear as I approached the hill, remembering my first attempt where I ended up walking. Because I have ridden up the hill, walking is no longer an option so once the hill is on the route, it is to be ridden. I passed a few joggers coming down the hill and fortunately they got out of my way as we were both on the same side of the road. I have very little maneuverability as I climb. MayMyRide put it as a Category 5 climb – probably because it is only short.

Once I had reached the top, the ride then became a recovery ride. I made my way to 347 and then started to head back home. Unfortunately, it was right into the wind. 347 is a fast road but today it was not such a fast ride back. My average speed was pretty slow so I need to improve on that over the coming weeks. I’ll see how this ride is next week.

Overall, not a bad ride.