Saturday, June 18, 2011

elkhorn - after tt (stage 2)

I slept better last night than I ever have at a stage race.  Probably something to do with sleeping outside with nothing to do the next day but ride my TT bike to the startline, race the TT, then chill, then ride to crit, race crit, then chill.  If only all stage races were this simple!  The folks at Elkhorn really pulled out all the stops. I hope anyone that sees the post KNOWS they HAVE to put this on the calendar next year.   It has been awesome!

On to the TT: I chilled a little too long this morning, so only got about 20 mins on the trainer before I had to take off to the start.  Still, legs were spinning smooth and I was able to put the power on.  I went into the TT with no real ambitions or strategy.  This is the first time I hve ridden my TT bike since Walla Walla and I changed the saddle on it before I came out to Elkhorn. (BTW: new Fizik Ares is the bomb!)  Was told most of the time is made on the way out, so I dug pretty hard on the first half.  Felt like I was going good for the 1st quarter as I caught my 30 sec man and was close to getting the 1 min man at that point.  2/4 I started dropping a bit.  Not knowing the course and since it wasn't an exact out-and-back, I wasn't exactly sure how far to dig.  Also, I felt like it was hard to find a groove on the course.  There was just enogh up and down that I found it hard to settle into an even tempo.  Even found myself coming out of the aerobars more than a few times even on the flats.  Also, I kept feeling like I was sliding forward a bit, which put a lot of stress on my arms.  Needless to say, I think I need to take a trip to see Russell at Upper Echelon to get the fit dialed in a little tighter before Cascade.  After this weekend and my mid pack finish in the TT, I am pretty confident in my ability to do really well in GC at Cascade. I still have a lot of time to work on the TT bike and get a bit more intensity in my legs.  High Desert in two weeks will tell all!

All in all really happy with my performances this weekend.  It is good to be able to ride hard and recover well from races again.  It helps that I have such an awesome team to be racing with!  Both Eli and Boone put in solid TTs putting both of them within top ten GC.  They are only a few seconds out of higher positions, so we have some plans for the crit tonight.  I am feeling good with no GC or stage aspirations, so my plan is help them as much as possible.  Probably only to keep everything together till mid race when one of them can launch a move.  If I do end up in a move that starts to stick, I'll probably go easy unless one of them ends up bridging. I just hope it stays dry!  Will try to write about the crit tonight, but might be dinner into bed since we have an early start tomorrow. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

elkhorn - after stage 1

So let me start by saying that Elkhorn is amazing!!!  I am really stoked on all aspects of this race so far.  I can't believe how long the rider count is for this race.  I would also like to say that this might be the cheapest race I have ever done.  We are camping (awesome!), we are eating the spagetti feed that the school puts on, and Eli's family cooked us up an awesome breakfast.  Here is a pic of our camp site (I took them with my computer, so they are lopsided and the quality is not awesome):

Now, how about today's race?  It was beautiful! The first hour of our race we pretty punchy with lots of people trying to start a break.   No break ended up sticking as it seemed like few were really ready to fully commit.  Today's stage had two climbs at 70ish miles.  One was about 2 miles (12ish minutes) at half way through the race.  The other was towards the end followed by a decent into flat run in to the finish.  Before the first, longer climb I was feeling a weak on the bike.  The first hour I followed a few moves and kept things in check, but really did not try to instigate.  Everyone else on the team was doing the same to keep our GC guys from working too hard. Since everyone was helping, it really made the load easier to bare on all of us.   After the first hour with nothing going, this mellowed up a bit. I sat in and as we started to approach the climb, I realized I was feeling pretty spent.  I slammed a few Gu and hoped that would help.  Sure enough, when the climb started I felt great.  We were going at a pretty mellow pace, so I moved up to the front.  I was even able to cover a few moves.  Made it over the top with everyone and most of those that had gotten popped, got back on on the decent.  The stretch between climb 1 and climb 2 was pretty bumpy, but nothing to cause gaps unless it was a break trying to get up the road. We were in good position going into the climb, and I thought it was much shorter than it was.  I covered a move early, then pushed the pace hard up to where I thought the the top was going to be.   After coming around the corner that I thought I would be descending and realizing we were about 1/2 up the climb, I realized I had blown my wad.  I try to follow one attack off  the front, and that was that.  I fell back quick after that. It took me a while to recover and by that point the field was gone.   I chased hard and was able to finish within a minute of the field. Originally I really kicked myself for not sitting in on that climb, then subsequently getting popped.  But I finished really strong and I am doing what I came here to do, which is get some good miles in my legs.  Plan on not going super deep in the TT tomorrow and trying to have some fun with the crit.   We will see what the last days holds.  I have a feeling I will either be covering early moves, get in an early break, or blowing myself up on the climb.  Whatever the case, I am happy.  I have a great team and I am stoked to be in Elkhorn racing with them.

Battery life is at 5% with no power source in site.  Sorry for the rushed report, but at least I actually did it.  PS. I ended up 19th out of 36 riders. 

Elkhorn - and it begins

We left last night for Elkhorn.  We drove to La Grande, which is about 45mins from Baker City, which is city the race will envelop for the next few days.  We stopped in La Grande because one of my team mates, Eli, has family here that very graciously put us up for the night, is currently cooking us breakfast, and is going to help work the feeds for us this weekend.  Got to say, we got it pretty good.
I am really looking forward to this stage race.  The plan is to drive to Baker City, park the van, set up a tent, and race our bikes.  Once we park the van, we are not getting back in it till we leave on Sunday.  Really stoked on that.  I think that we are camping takes some of the seriousness out of the stage race, and if there is one problem with road racing, it is that on the whole, we all take it too seriously.  Anything to lighten the load, camping included, helps.  Speaking of taking things too seriously, a big goal of mine this weekend is not to do what I usually do, which is consume 1000 calories / meal.   Trying to stick to my usual diet of fruit, veg, and whole grains as much as possible.  I'll start with this here apple.

As for today's stage, sounds like it is going to be a select group finish.  The climbs are enough to spit some people out (hopefully not me), but the downhill and flats are long enough that there will be a regrouping.  Field size is small, so we will see how the race unfolds.  There are a few riders that will likely attack early.  My job is most likely going to be following wheel, answering attacks, then sitting in if I get in a break.  Goal is to get any many guys in the front group as possible, while working as little as possible.  Sounds like a big task, so if we can get Boone, Eli (our GC guys) with Adam to stay with them and help out later in the race / on Sunday, I'll be happy.

Since it looks like we have the largest team, people might be looking towards us to set tempo.  If that ends up being the case, I might attack, because I would rather burn my matches in a break then burn them riding on the front.  

Not sure if we will have wifi at the school ground where we are camping, but I plan on posting after every stage.  Looking

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cherry Blos (after stage 2)

TT done.  Got 8th in the tt, putting me in 7th for GC. Not stoked  at all with TT time.  Course was an 11 mile rolling out and back. Crazy strong headwind on way out.  Saved too much going out, which I was trying not to do.  In retrospect, should have treated turn around like it was the finish line because I was spinning out the whole way back.

Got crit tonight.  Riding my cross bike (Ridley got totalled in stage 1 for those of you who do not know) so hoping to hang on and help pull off the win for a teammate.

Tomorrow it is on.  Pretty sure Wentz and myself can go with anything that moves and since we are sitting 6 and 7 respectively on GC, should have some good cards to play should both of us make the selection.

Got to finish getting cross bike ready for crit. Awesome times!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Riding Fuel. Before

Although it seems counter intuitive to write about nutrition on a blog entitled Bonk For Fun, I have had a fair amount of questions regarding food choices.  Since I vary my answers depending on when we are talking about, I'll cover this topic in three different entries: Before, During, and After.

Personally, I believe that "before the ride food" is the hardest to dial in.  Why? If you eat a big meal, you generally need some time to digest it before hoping on the bike and if you don't eat a big meal and your ride runs on the long side, it seems no matter what food you put down on the bike, you'll still be borderline bonking by the time you are heading home.  The solution to this is simple, if you eat 2-3 hours before your ride, you should be all set.  Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done.  If your ride meets at 8am, who wants to wake up at 5am to get some food down?  On those days, I do everything I can to have the food ready before I go to bed, eat as soon as I wake up, usually a little after 6am, then, if need be, go back to bed for another 30 mins.  I generally just stay up and try to catch up on my blog reading or do some last minute adjustments to my bike. I have grown to like not rushing out the door as soon as I wake up.
Some people can plow down a big bowl of ceral and hit the road - that is awesome, but just know, you are running on fumes.  In fact, the word breakfast refers literally to breaking one's fast.  When you sleep, your body is using all the calories you have gathered throughout the day to rebuild and rejuvenate.  If you are like most cyclist I know, chances are you went to bed a little hungry to make sure you don't pack on any extra pounds.  That fine (I know I try to), but that means your body's glycogen stores (body's stored form of glucose) is pretty well depleted.    Anything you put down right away, will generally not be available for energy for 2-3 hours depending on the composition of what you are eating.
All that to say eat 2-3 hours before your ride.  Your body will love you for it.

What do I eat?  It depends.  I have to say my favorite amongst favorites is chopped up fruit in steel cut oats with nuts.  It has all the calories in the right distribution of fat, carbs, and protein to keep you going in the long. 

So here's the receipe:
1/2 cup uncooked steel cut oats (you can get these in the bulk food section of your grovery store for $0.99.  They look like little pellets.)
1 cup water (Recipe is 1 part oats, 2 parts waterSimple math if you making more)
1/4 cup seed and nuts mixture (again I get this in the bulk food section and eat them fairly consistantly throughout the day.)
Apple, banana, or other fresh fruit (chop the fruit up into whatever size pieces you fancy.  If I am going on a shorter ride or watching my calories for the day, I tend to up the fresh fruit and reduce the amount of oats.  Not recommended for the long boys.)
1 tblsp Cinnamon (Cinnamon is awesome, add as much as you can handle!)
1/4 cup non fat milk (more or less depending on consistency you like.)
1 tblsp Honey or Syrup (this is totally optional.  I tend to add it if I know I am going long and want the extra calories.)

Combine oats, water, nuts/seeds, fruit, and cinnamon in large sauce pan the night before.  Doing it the night before is not crucial, but remember that bit about eating right when you wake up?  Prepping and soaking the oats and nuts the night before helps them to cook fast.  I also have a theory that they retain more water that way.  In addition, prepping the night before lets everything blend together - think apple pie!

In the morning, get the water going for your french press, plop the concoction mixture on the stove over medium heat.  Cook till all water has boiled out (5-10 mins).  Pull off stove, let cool, add milk, and enjoy a day of bonk free riding.  You'll still have to eat on the bike, but this is a pretty damn good base to put everything else on.

Hope you enjoy it.  If you are still hungry, or get hungry before you head out on your ride, chomp down on a banana or something that is quickly and easily digestible.   And for those of you wondering where all this good wholesome food puts you caloriewise, fear not:
Perfect ratio to keep you going in the long.  Next up: what eat on the bike!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking it to the lower-extreme: FTP work

It has been more than I while since I last posted, but I would certainly like to force myself back into the habit now that the cycling world is back in action and people have something more than broken sponsorship deals, transfers, and who gets the new ugliest-kit award to talk about.

To get back into the swing of things, I thought I would throw out some ideas of Threshold Training. This year for me, working on improving my threshold level has been some of the most effective training I have done. When I say working on threshold, do I mean do endless interval work in level 4? No! In fact, a lot of the work I have done thus far this off-season was designed to get my ready for those types of intervals, not doing those intervals themselves.

To start with, I break my early off-season into the typical base1, base2, base3. Each base period is three weeks of increasing durations (e.g., week1 = 12hrs, week2 = 14hrs, week3 = 16hrs). After I complete my third week, I do a Recovery week, which is usually about .5 * week3's duration. Less important to me than hours or miles during the recovery week is making sure I get about 2 days off the bike, a couple days with light recovery ride (1-2.5hrs) so I keep some fluidity in my legs, and being ready for a weekly Function Threshold Power (FTP) test, which is preceded by a leg opener work-out the day before. (The point of this entry is not about rest weeks, God bless them, so I wont discuss them too much. It should just be said that by the time Saturday's test rolls around, I am itching to get back into training and my legs feel great. If I have the cash, I try to get a deep tissue massage at the beginning of this week also.)

So we have discussed my basic structure (and probably a little too much on recovery weeks). But what do I put into those weeks to try to make them effective? The answer is it depends. Each period is different from the others and each week within the period are different from one another. If there is one general rule I follow when I am trying to design my plan and workouts, it is when looking at the big picture, it is important to progressively build intensity. For me, this was done as follows:

Base1 was all about getting some miles back in my legs. I did a lot of gym work to try to improve my force and speed skill work on the bike (after all, Power [Watts] = Force * Velocity).  My bike work-outs, although fairly long, were almost totally in level2 or Endurance level. Sometimes in climbing I would creep higher to level3-4, but never for more than a few minutes and I always tried to bring it down directly after climbing.  The key here for me was spending as much time consistently in level2 as I could.  If I had too much time in level3, for example, I would not be able to ride in level2 for as long.

Base2 is when I started to have a bit more fun.  I spent less time in the gym, but started working incorporating force reps into my weekly routine to transfer my gains from the gym into on the bike strength.  In addition to introducing force reps, I started doing tempo intervals (level3).  Although it does not seem like much (during the race season last year there were races where I spent almost the entire race at level3), doing these interval this early is certainly something you will feel.  For me, I tried to make these long.  I start with 3x20minx5min, then progressed to 2x30minx5min, then 2x45minx5min.  I was certainly cooked by the end of these, but because of how long they were,  it is not like doing the tradition 5x5x5-make-me-want-to-puke intervals.  I tried to be steady through-out and add duration each week.

Base3, the time when things get really fun.  For Base3, I moved out of the gym (with the exception of 1 day a week of light maintenance and a couple days of core) and stopped the force reps, and I started introducing actual threshold work.  Like my tempo intervals, I would try to keep them longer with less intervals. 2x20minx5min at the lower end of level4 was my goal for these.  In addition to the longer intervals, I would also do some shorter threshold intervals, 5x6minx2min, on a climb later in the week so I didn't lose my climbing legs.  Again, I never felt like I was pinning it during these intervals.  There was a steady increase in pain, but I could do these intervals, then put down some big miles the next day without too much discomfort.  The overall goal of these intervals in my mind was A.) to push my threshold level up from the bottom and B.) get my body ready for the stress of the higher intensity interval that start next week (Build Periods).  Some of the intervals I will be starting next week, are designed to pull my threshold level from the top up; hence, the distinction lower or sub-threshold work versus threshold work proper.

This month's FTP test.  What even prompted me to write this entry is that I saw such good gains in this month's FTP test, that I thought it was worth sharing.  Before I get into some pictures, I'll say that my watts are only half of the improvement.  The other half was proper pacing, increasing my cadence (something which was previously extremely low during my TTs), and just feeling more comfortable while preforming the test.

Figure 1. shows my entire TT.  The picture is compressed, but you should be able to click on it to expand the view.  The yellow horizontal lines are watts, the orange horizontal line is elevation, green is cadence (rpm), blue is speed in mph, and red on top is hear rate (bpm).  The red lines running vertical show the 20 min TT broken into 5 min quadrants (QI, QII, QIII, and QIV). The numbers circled in green on the side are Normalized Power on top and Average Power below that.  Looking at those two number, you will see that they are within a watt of one another.  What that means is that there was little undulation through-out the TT--that is, power was constant throughout the entire 20 mins as opposed to on again, off again.  Exactly what you want in a TT.
A bit on the actual numbers, although these numbers are not that great (great for me, but many dudes I know could blow this out of the water), there has been steady improvement from FTP test to FTP test.  A test last month showed an average power of 290 watts and a test from June, middle of the last year's race season, had me at 299 watts also.  The difference between last years and this past weekend's is A.) I am almost 10 pounds lighter (Watts / Kg is what cycling is all about) and B.) that last test was in the prime of racing season.  I have plenty of time to slowly build up my FTP so that I will be flying past last years marker by June.  I expect gains from here on out to come much slower than this past month, but, judging by how I felt during and after this past weekend's FTP test, I think gaining another 20 watts by June is not out of the question. 20 min avg TT @ 320 w @ 138 lbs would be huge for me!

Beyond Numbers.  As mentioned, the steady gains in power have been only half of the equation.  The other part was how I felt through-out the test.  For that, I will break each 5 min quadrant into it's own section and talk about it with accompanying graph.

Figure 2. QI. This section represents the first 5 mins of the FTP.  If it can be seen, notice that the average watts are 288 w. Well shy of my final number, but I have read that starting out too high, even in a short period time trial such as a 20 min FTP test, will flood the legs with lactate acid, and the rest of the TT will be a bare before you even really get started.  With that in mind, I tried to ease into it with a steady, high RPM effort.

Figure 3. QII.  In the second section I start to ramp it up a bit more, but I don't go all out and I certainly don't try to make up for the lost watts in the first section . . . yet.  My average watts for the second 5 mins was 295 w.

Figure 4. QIII. As you can see from the graph, in this section I come across a little elevation gain which cause me to dig (increasing my watts) followed by a little elevation loss, which forces me to spin very high to maintain my watts (remember how I said I don't have a very high cadence when I TT? ) Despite this natural disruption, there is a steady increase in intensity across the board.  QIII is where I start to really feel it and put myself in whole.  I still focus on efficiency, but I am really trying to crank out the watts here.  My average for QIII was 298 w.

Figure 5. QIV. At 5 minutes to go, I try not to hold back anymore.  Stay focused. think of motivating things, and don't hold anything back.  I still try to retain some grace on the bike, but as you can see in the last minute (the initial spike was coming out of a corner), when you throw everything you have left at a TT, the effort is no longer as steady and graceful. Average watts for the last five were 308 w.

Round-up.  An interesting thing to take away from this entry is that, like the proper pacing in a TT, season training should progressively build in intensity so your body is ready to handle what you throw at it in the last month leading up to a big race.  Hopefully I will be able to steadily improve upon this through-out my training and as I do, I hope to share it with you.  The real test is going to be whether or not I can improve my anaerobic capacity and sprint watts.  Stay tuned for that, and how I went about it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Osmotic Centrations

I haven't posted in a while mainly because I have been getting shelled in school.  Let's recap there:

I am taking Anatomy and Physiology this term which has some pretty strong pre-requisites recommendations.  Going into the classes I am holding a pretty good GPA, so, in the option of opting out of the pre-reqs, I figured I could take the hit on the GPA in exchange for not spending an additional $1,000,000 for an extra term of lower level bio or chem classes.  There in lies the problem...

Every class of the past two weeks have left me with more questions than answers.  In cycling terms, I am off the back.  According to our syllabus I am essentially off the back before the race even started.  That being said, my time has been devoted to studying, but to study, I feel like I need to study if you know what I mean.  The chemistery review we had the first week was Greek to me.   So I did my damnedest to learn what I could of chemistry, only so I could understand what I was supposed to be studying.

So yeah, its been rough.  The up shot of this, is that I am learning some of the most fascinating things I have ever tried to put into my brain.   Even better, things are starting to click.  Now that we are starting to move away from the chem side of physiology and into some of the more conceptual aspects, (i.e. preferred fuel sources for different levels of activity), things, like molecules themselves,  are coming together.

In addition to A + P, I am taking Kinesiology, Nutrition, and, not for credit hours, a Fitness Instructor Class.  Nutrition is cake work.  I love the material, but most of it is review thus far (probably how people in A + P feel about the class) and Kinesiology is nothing short of amazing.  The study of motion!  Yeah, I am into it.  Again, a Pre-req for this class is A + P, which I am just taking now.  Lots of bridging up to the rest of the class has been made this past week, but things are coming grupo compacto.  And of course, there is always coffee:

 In addition to classes, I am planning on racing with collegiate with the PSU Cycling Team.   Because of my OBRA points, I will be able to race in the Men's A field and will probably have an easy time qualifying for Collegiate Nationals - transportation and such paid for by PSU :).  Should be a fun times!  On the OBRA side, can't wait to start racing with Team O. The team has a meet the team group ride Oct 16th, that anyone interested in racing or joining a new team should come check out!  In other  OBRA, I saw the tentative race date calendar for the 2011 race season and it looks like Cherry Blossom is going to be April 8th - 10th.  What that means for all you planning anal-retentives out there like me is that if you start Base 1 November 1st (perfect time to start a new season), you will have exactly enough time for the traditional training script (i.e. Base1, Base2, Base3, Build1, Build2, Peak).  Was the intentional?  seems to perfect not to be.

That's all. Hopefully as classes progress (hopefully along my knowledge and understanding), I'll have more time to post.

Good Luck to everyone racing Rainer tomorrow - my favorites Cross Crusade course!!!