For some strange reason I got the bright idea to attempt doing an FTP test on Trainer Road last night. It was my second ride of this week, which is also the 2nd build week in my training cycle. Ya know when your body really starts feeling some fatigue from the previous weekend? Not only that, my first ride of the week was a pretty much a 40k time trial(below) so an easier ride this day would been a smarter option.
When I first started warming up, I felt a little stiff but didn’t think much about it since it was a warm-up. During the 3 1 min high cadence spin-ups I could still feel the stiffness in my quads and I was struggling to maintain the goal watts. Then the 5 min “clearing effort” pretty much destroyed any psychological help I may have had to help get me a little further in the actual 20 minute test period.
I managed to hold on for about 5 minutes and after that I realized there was no way in hell I could maintain this for another 15 minutes. An easy spin then ensued. Another day maybe.
I awoke to my Jawbone Up vibrating away at around 7:15am. A quick Heart Rate variability check revealed a 74 and to “continue training as usual”. Gitty-up! Next was to fuel up with a banana, raspberry, spinach, and beet smoothie. A much more normal, at least to me, alternative than pancakes. Beets are supposed to give you the ability to carry more oxygen in your blood similar to what blood doping does. Even if it is a placebo effect I will take it. They taste good too.
I had hopes of getting out the door by 8am, but as usual I tend to poke around in the morning and it takes me awhile to get going. Eventually I got all my nutrition stuff ready to go, oiled up my chain and pumped up my tires. I was on the road a little before 10AM. With a forecasted 6 hour ride I would get done around 4PM. It looked to be a nice day, so I might as well use it all up. It was also a bit cool in the early morning, so I didn’t feel like dragging arm warmers and all that crap along too. The only bad thing was the wind was supposed to pick up as the day went on, but I am pretty used to that with all the windy days I encountered this year.
I headed out River Rd and jumped on Rt 73 at the ski jumps. The stretch from there to Keene is the worst part of the whole race course. The road is so mangled, especially on the shoulders, that you must be on high alert the whole time. With traffic along side of you too creates an even more tension. There was a traffic light at the Cascade Lakes where they are doing some road construction. It actually was pretty nice if you let all the cars go, then follow behind them and let it fly. You can pretty much guarantee no cars from there to about half way down Cascade mountain descent since it is a pretty long light. The descent down to Keene is a bit scary at times due to the poor road conditions and the high speeds.
One down into Keene I can breathe a big sigh of relief. From here to the town of Jay it is big shoulders and fairly flat terrain. It is cruising mode and I just love this stretch. The out-and-back section to Ausable Forks is also fairly flat as well, but I hate out-and-backs so this section isn’t as fun for me. Once I got back to Jay, I made the turn towards Wilmington, it is climbing time! The stretch to Wilmington is about 5 miles of mostly climbing. It is pretty consistent grade so you can get in a rhythm and just spin away. It isn’t too bad.
The stretch from Wilmington back to Lake Placid is kind of a false flat push. It is very deceiving. Once you get past the narrow canyon section it isn’t too bad. The wind had started to pick up a bit by this time and it always seems to just get funneled through this river valley and amplified. When I reached the last uphill section before Lake Placid, known as the “three bears”, my legs were feeling a bit tired and my mind was starting to struggle with the fact that I had to do another loop. I cruised through town and then stopped back at the house to refill water bottles. After that I was ready for another round.
I was now at around 60 miles with all the back-and-forth to the house on River Road, so I decided to chop off the Ausable Forks section…Yay!! I only wanted to do 100 miles so without that it would give me another 40 miles. They key parts for me are to do the hilly sections anyway. Once back out on the second loop, my legs were feeling good again. In fact, my legs were feeling better as I went. The only thing that really bothered me was my ass. Six plus hours in the saddle is a bit rough on the derrière.
Now on my third loop of this course in two days. Going over this road that many times you start to become intimately familiar with every pothole, beer can, bolt and other rusty metal artifact along the road. It was almost to the point where you start naming these things. What else do you do for this long on a bike? I wondering if they will still be there in a month and half? Ok..back to reality again. There was a Mountain Bike festival in Wilmington this weekend, so there were a lot of fat tire aficionados out and about. Roadies and Mountain bikers…could get a little tense.
The winds had picked up to a pretty heavy gust. I could not figure out which way the wind was coming from though. When I went by the North Pole hotel and campground there were two flags next to each other and each one was stretched out in directions pointing towards each other? Huh? I did a double-take..how could that be? Oh it be! The wind does some crazy things heading through this valley. Eventually I made it back to River Road and headed back to the house.
I ended up with 103 miles in around 6:25. I am pretty happy with that since I was not trying to crush it. I really wanted to see how the legs felt and if I needed to go slower. I felt pretty good and I even headed out for a short 20 minute brick run just to really see what the legs were like to run on. They really felt great. If I didn’t have a long run tomorrow and Denise didn’t want to go out for dinner I would have kept going. Ha…oh well.
We got cleaned up and headed over to Alegria Garden Café some dinner. I had vegetable spring rolls and vegetable pot-pie and Denise had a Rabbit-Oatmeal Confit appetizer and Salmon on Quinoa for dinner. Everything was very good. They also have homemade bread which was out of this world. The place was not real busy, which surprised me a bit. It is quite good, so I am not sure why they don’t get more people.
After dinner, we headed home and it didn’t take me too long to start the head bobbing. I called it a day and crawled into bed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow should be interesting with a 2:45 run on what I expected to be some stiff legs in the morning. We would then have to pack up on my return and head out for the long drive home.
The Spring edition of the Velodromes’ outdoor cycling flea market is set for May 4th from 8:30AM to 2PM. Check it out. Good deals to be had. I always seem to have something going on when they have these.
My sixth training weeks went from one extreme to the other in terms of weather. The first part of the week consisted of all indoor workouts due to cold and very windy conditions. I can handle the bike trainer, but I really try to avoid the treadmill as much as possible. After failing to secure a treadmill at the fitness center Monday night, I decided to utilize their indoor track instead. Mistake!
The indoor track at my current fitness center is located on the upper floor and overlooks the strength training area below. The track is about a elongated circle, so you are constantly turning. It does not have any banking on the turns either. So with that and a race pace tempo run and new pair of New Balance led to some nice blisters and some bloody shoes. Bummer. Fortunately it didn’t affect the rest of the weeks runs a all. Wednesday night I kept to running straight on the treadmill.
All that indoor training was quickly forgotten come the weekend. The temps soared into the high 50’s(deg F) and the sun was blasting. Ahhhh! I also utilized a massage credit I had at the fitness center on Friday after my swim. Oh man…that was good! I wish I could get one of those every week.
Saturday I got out for a nice ride. Temps were perfect and the wind was pretty mellow(6-8mph N-NE). It was a gorgeous day. I was only supposed to ride for 1:50, but I stretched it out to 2:15. Legs felt good, but it was a pretty easy ride too. One thing I noticed later in the ride was some strangeness in my rear wheel that concerned me. It kept engaging like when you are freewheeling and you start pedaling again and the cassette engages the wheel. It just kept engaging. Hmmm….
I also picked up a new pair of Reynolds carbon fiber race wheels. They were on sale at Performance Bike for less than I could get a used pair of Zipps on eBay. I checked around and could not find any bad reviews. I consulted John at Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles and he thought they had some wind issues with over 15 degrees of yaw. Most of the reviews said they were good in the wind though. We shall see. I got the Assault/Strike combo which gives you a 46 front and a 66 rear, which should make steering a little more forgiving.
On Sunday, I was able to coordinate training with the Wifey which was cool. She was set to do a 9 miler and I needed to do 1:30 which was pretty close. We decided on doing the Ironton Rail Trail since she prefers a asphalt surface and this trail is mostly that. It had been a few years since we last toured this trail and it was on mountain bikes when we did it. This was an excellent path for running. Pretty flat too except for a long gradual climb near the Coplay Kilns area, which isn’t too bad. It was a nice day, but not quite as nice as Saturday though. A few more clouds, wind and lower temp. I ended up with around 9.5 miles which was cool Felt like I didn’t do anything.
We also turned the clocks ahead on Sunday morning, so now we got some extra light for my after work runs. Only thing it is going to be a little dark in the mornings. I sure hope the temps hold up again.
As my training ramps up heading into the Winter, I had anticipated purchasing a new computer-controlled resistance trainer for my cycling. I projected many long, boring hours creating puddles of sweat on the basement floor. In an effort to make that more tolerable I thought a pre-programmed, video –enabled trainer would help alleviate that. Unfortunately, this comes with a pretty large price tag at ~$1600.
While scanning through some past blog entries on DCRainmakers’ site one day I came across a mention of TrainerRoad. You can check out the detailed DCRainmaker review of TrainerRoad here. TrainerRoad is a web-based application that allows you to ride power-based workouts using your standard bike trainer, ANT+ USB dongle, and a speed/cadence meter. There is a small Adobe Air application that you download to your PC/Mac which communicates with your ANT+ dongle and reads in from your ANT+ enable cadence sensor as well as HR monitor. They have profiles for most standard trainers although they seem to be best calibrated with the Kurt Kinetic models. This allows them to estimate your power output which they call “Virtual Power”.
A TrainerRoad account is $10/month and they have tons of different workouts to choose from. It is recommended to first do a test ride to establish your Functional Threshold Power(FTP) and Lactate Threshold Heart Rate(LTHR) zones then all subsequent rides are then based on that value. You should also test every 6-8 weeks to adjust for improvements you have made.
TrainerRoad also has some base workout plans you can follow which prescribe different workouts each week for a particular time period. You can select a plan based on your level of fitness, goals and time period. I like this feature so I don’t have to sit there sifting through all the workouts on the site, but they do provide a nice filtering capability for narrowing down the type of ride you are looking for.
One of the cool features of TrainerRoad is the ability to integrate biking videos with some of the workouts. If you filter on “Video Workouts”, you can select a workout that is synchronized with a particular cycling video such as Spinervals or Sufferfest. The videos are sold separately through the appropriate sites and links are provided in the workout description. Pretty cool feature for passing away those hours in the basement.
TrainerRoad also works well with regular videos on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc. by providing a minimized view that allows the video to take most of the screen real estate. I actually prefer the minimized state better as it is more simple.
If you are looking for a way to make those long hours in the basement go faster and more productive, I would highly recommend TrainerRoad. They are always working on improving the product and new features come out pretty regularly.
This part of the off-season is a great time to tune-up on your form and technique before training starts. Coming out of this past race season I had developed some IT Band issues in my left leg and also some what I like to call “weirdness” in my left knee while biking. The “weirdness” was not really pain, except a couple times climbing it did hurt a bit, but more of a strange sensation. Given this, I first decided to make an appointment to get my tri-bike re-fitted over at Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles in Topton, PA.
When I purchased my 2006 Quintana Roo Caliente triathlon bike back in 2009 I was fitted for the bike, but I was just starting to feel like things were not quite right. I had also lost much confidence in the bike shop that I purchased it from(I am not even what to mention their name anymore) after the lack of support and being duped into purchasing a 3 year old bike. I had been working with John Ireland from Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles for the last year or so and was very impressed by his expertise, knowledge and most of all his honesty. John is a certified Serotta Bike Fit Technician. I had referred a co-worker to him earlier in the year who was very impressed by the time and detail he had taken to perform his bike fit. This was the final motivation I needed get in there for an appointment. I stopped in one day and setup an appointment for the Friday before Thanksgiving. He stated it would take around 3 hours so I needed to schedule a day when I had off.
The fitting starts with a lengthy questionnaire to gather your history, past injuries and goals. The aim here is to help the fitter really understand you from a fitting perspective. It is amazing how some of the smallest things come into play in your bike fit. John also took the time to explain why certain questions were important and how they play into your fit. It took about 45 minutes to get through the questions. Next, we put the bike on a trainer and I warmed up for about 10 minutes or so. The bike trainer was a CylcleOps Pro models which was pretty sweet. After I was warmed up, John began taking some measurements starting from the pedals on up. He also took some measurements off the bike and on a massage-style table to test my flexibility as well. As we progressed small tweaks were made to the bike and even the cleats on my shoes. The biggest changes came mostly from my seat and my handlebars which brought me up and back a bit. I was amazed at the amount of change we needed to make. This really had me questioning the accuracy of that initial fit I had when I purchased the bike. I was basically leaning far too forward.
The fitting took almost exactly 3 hours which was what he had said it would take. I left the bike there since he needed to order a new, shorter stem and I also had him re-cable the bike too. The original bike shop I purchased the bike from had done a very unprofessional job leaving large loops of cable jetting out from the front of the bike. John had indicated that fixing this would increase the shifting accuracy on the bike as well as decrease some the drag .
John gave me a call the following week to let me know it was ready to go and I picked it up the same day. I took it out for a ride on Thanksgiving day and I was immediately amazed at how it felt. It was a bit different, but it was different in a good way. I felt more controlled on the bike. One the things he had mentioned during the fitting was that the previous position was causing me to use more quadriceps and this new position would bring the glutes and hamstrings into play for better endurance. This should help on the run off the bike too. The ride was only 45 minutes, so I could not tell anything there, but overall it just felt really good. I am really looking forward to getting out on the bike for some longer rides now. Besides the fit, shifting was greatly improved and it just felt solid. Something I had really never felt on this bike before.
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I looking forward to reaping the rewards of this new fit. With Lake Placid coming up additional comfort over 112 miles will help to set me up for a good marathon run. If I can also gain 1-2 MPH that would be equally helpful. With Winter coming I will be logging some miles on the trainer which should really dial me into this fitting.
I bypassed the wetsuit strippers on the exit of the swim and started the long haul up the hill to the Deerhurst Lodge parking lot were the transition was. I can get out of my wetsuit pretty quickly and I thought the strippers would take longer than if I did it myself. I may take advantage of it at Lake Placid next year though. The path to transition followed the golf cart path up steady hill and ended up being about 0.35 miles in length. This was probably the longest transition distance I have ever had. I thought my transition was fairly decent for the things I had control over. I did put on socks since it was a bit cool out this morning. This will take up a good 30 seconds more, especially with wet feet.
T1 result: OK T1 Time: 5:01
The start of the bike was a bit rough. After getting out into the mounting zone, I hopped on my bike and started pedaling. I immediately felt a rubbing of my back tire. I had recently put a new rear tire on and it was a bit taller than the previous one. I thought I had adjusted this correctly, but I think it may have came loose again. Funny how these things always happen in a race. My wife had made her way up to the road and came over to see what was going on. I heard my wife say “uh oh!” I managed to loosen the quick release and adjust the wheel to alleviate the rubbing and was on my way. I had taken my bike gloves from transition, but ended up giving them to my wife after I got the wheel fixed. I was finally on my way.
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The course was hilly to say the least. It wasn’t like huge mountain climbs, but it was just constantly up-and-down. There was a section on one of the major roads that was somewhat flat for a little bit, but even that had some undulations. Tried to settle into some grooves and made sure I was spinning at over 85 rpms on the hills. There was a couple hills that I had no choice but to go under, but for the most part I kept to that.
The ride went through a couple small little towns that were a really nice change of scenery. There were usually groups of supporters cheering away. The scenery overall was gorgeous. Lots of lakes and woods. The trees were starting to change color too, which added even more to the picturesque surroundings. One stretch of road ran along a beach of a larger lake and there was fire boat docked shooting a large stream of water out over the beach which was really cool. I picked up a bottle of water and a Honey Stinger waffle at the first aid station. I usually don’t take food at race aid stations, but the Honey Stinger Waffle is my regular feed on the bike. This along with my homemade energy chunks kept me well fed for the race. I also kept well hydrated with 2 bottles of Skratch Labs Hydration mix and 1.5 bottles of water. Felt like this was the perfect amount. I had also taken 3 Salt Sticks and a bottle of Skratch Labs mix prior to the race too.
The last part of the race was quite a bit hillier than the first half. My legs were really feeling it on the last couple of climbs. In addition to this was 3 sections of recently oil-and-chipped road…YUK! This shit should be outlawed! They did a pretty good job of sweeping it, but it just sucks the life out of me. Fortunately the sections were fairly short. In addition to the hilly course, they also extended it to 58.5 miles(94km)! What the hell??? Could we make this tougher please??!! Finally I rolled back into Deerhurst to get ready for the 13.1 mile run. I was hoping my legs still had some life left in them. While this was not my fastest bike ride, I think I may have executed it as I had hoped to and that was to remain steady and save something for the run. I also lost a minute or two adjusting my wheel at the start.
Bike Result: OK-(not superfast, but steady) Bike Time: 3:18:59 ( 17.6 mph)
I was on the road by 9:30AM on Saturday after a good nights sleep big bowl of granola with hemp milk. The sun was breaking over the hills behind the lake, and brightening up the west side Keuka Lake. I decided that to change things up this year I was going to climb up the hill a bit on the west side of Keuka near the Bully Hill Vineyard and follow the road that parallels the coastline at a higher elevation. I typically ride the lower road which is ok but there is a long line of cars parked for the people who are staying in the houses along the lake and you never know when a car door may open. I wished I would have done this before! The initial climb up from the shoreline is a little taxing(Cat 4) but it was sooo worth it. The road was fairly flat to rolling, with a nicely paved surface but the view was INCREDIBLE! I was winding through farms and fields of grapes and constantly overlooking Keuka Lake. In addition, the day was beautiful. Blue skies and white puffy clouds. It looked like something from the Simpsons.
I eventually reached the end of the west side of the lake where I came to a dead end on Italy Hill Road. I made a right turn heading towards Branchport, NY and quickly descended the 1-2 mile 7% descent…Weeee!! Besides taking the upper road on the west side of the lake, I also decided to ascend the bluff which is the peninsula of land that forms the inner portion of the “Y” that is Keuka Lake. The climb up the bluff is not super steep, but long and gradual.You are then rewarded with a amazing view of both sides of the lake. Once on top on Skyline Dr. it is pretty flat too and then you take a steep drop down to the point. I thought I would get a really cool view from the point, but it was covered in trees. Once back down to lake-level I was faced with taking either a right or left on West or East Bluff Rds. I made the left and the road turned from paved to a dirt road that was coated with a layer of tar. It actually wasn’t too bad and I eventually dropped down to a paved section. The rest of the road was well shaded and flat. It cruised along the shore up to Keuka College and eventually back out to the main road(Rt. 14 ) not far from where I turned in. Wind had been coming from the North all day, but wasn’t too bad. I was looking forward to my southerly ride back down the east side of the lake which should be a fast cruise.
I made my way down the east side running around 18-22mph the whole time. A nice tailwind made it even more enjoyable. When I got back to the house I dropped my bike off and informed my wife that I still had a 20 minute brick run to do yet. She had forgotten about this and was looking forward to going to lunch, so she was not real happy about it. I quickly threw on my running shoes and made a quick 17 minute loop around the house. I then ran down to the dock and jumped in the lake for a quick bath, then it was off to Heron Hill for some lunch.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Heron Hill. I had a portabella panini and a few glasses of wine and my wife had the greek salad. We ended up ordering another portabella panini and splitting it because it was so good. I then did a quick wine tasting and purchased a few bottles of their Eclipse Red and Dry Riesling to take home. The view from Heron Hill’s winery was spectacular(below).
We stopped in at the craft show in Hammondsport on the way home and scored a really cool ceramic plate(below) for grating garlic and other things. Can’t wait to try that out. We chilled out at the house the rest of the evening and my Sister-In-Law prepared a wonderful dinner. They had chicken, but also lots of vegetables so I was good to go. I really had no desire to eat the chicken either, which I was surprised. I didn’t last too much longer after dinner as the 60 mile bike ride and 20 min run finally caught up to me. Got to get some rest as tomorrow is a easy mile swim and a 1:30 run in the morning and then travel back home again.
I noticed some freshly painted ride marks on my bike route on Thursday night, so I did some googling and found the Wheels in the Park ride. They had a 10, 30, & 50 mile rides on Saturday morning. It was perfect since I needed to do a 2:40 ride and it was on my home turf too. Always good to seek out some alternative roads to mix things up a bit. I rode over to the Bob Rodale Fitness Park in the morning and signed up. I put down a banana and off I went. The morning was sooo humid. It was the closest you could get to raining without raining. I was coated in moistness.
The roads were my typical route roads but many times we went in the opposite direction than I usually go. After about 5 miles I was cruising down a pretty flat section and all of a sudden a large bug flew down my half-unzipped jersey. Oh shit! I hope that wasn’t a stinging insect. I shook my jersey out a bit and kept on riding. Next thing I know WHAM!!! A sharp sting right around my ribs on the right side. Then another one…Shit! I was going around 20mph at this point and before I knew it I was rapidly approaching a stop sign, so I needed to suck it up and apply the brakes. Another sting! I finally came to a stop and hoisted my jersey up to find a large, hairy bumblebee clinging to the bibs of my cycling shorts. I flicked him off as he squirmed a bit before his final demise on the road. The stinging subsided and eventually turned to itching but I found some inner strength to push on :). This year is the year stings for me.
I passed a beehive “set of drawers” in a field later in the ride and was really hoping not to get stung again. The ride was pretty nice and mostly flat to rolling hills. The sun eventually came out and made things even hotter. Good hot weather training. The folks from Sodexo who put on the ride had a nice stir fry at the end which was great. I didn’t eat the chicken though. Ended up with ~55 miles with the commute to the start included.
Sitting here watching the Tour de France while Cadel Evans is flying up beyond category(HC for Hors Category) mountain climbs puts my evening ride into perspective. Nonetheless I thought my hill ride tonight was rather challenging with a 3rd and 4th category climb. This week has been chock full of some high intensity training and the stiffness in my legs are testament to that. As I headed out on my warm-up ride down Mertztown Road, I was wondered how I would perform on the route I had planned. I have a love-hate-love relationship with doing hills. I love the thought of doing them. I hate them when I am on them and love it when they are over.
The first hill of the evening was up Schlossberg Road. Schlossberg Road is a short but steep little climb but not categorized. The worst part about it is the oil & chipped false flat section of road that leads up to it. This section just sucks the life out of me. I frequently ride this part at the end of most of my rides and it kills me. The Schlossberg climb was a little rough to start, but it cleared some of the stiffness from my quads. I thought it would be a good warm-up for what was to come. My ranking on this climb is only 21st which is not that impressive. Got a long way to go on this one.
After little downhill and steady up Mountain Road, I made a hard left turn up Hensingersville Road. The start of this Category 3/4 climb is really steep and can almost seem like you are hardly moving then it levels out and gives you a little rest. The next uphill is very gradual at first but then increases in grade as you reach the top. The climb up to the stop sign at State St. is a category 4, but if you go up to the intersection at Benfield Road which adds a couple nice more steep climbs to it becomes a Category 3. So of course I rode it out to Benfield because I just can’t get enough! I am actually ranked 8th on this climb, which surprised the crap out me.
My original plan was to ride Benfield road out to Huff’s Church, pick up Dogwood down the mountain and up Centennial. As I cruised down Dogwood though I noticed what a nice consistent climb that was. I thought it would be around a Category 3, but found out later it is only Cat 4. Instead of doing Centennial, I rode back up Dogwood Road which was quite challenging. There seems to be no flatter parts to give you a chance to flush out some Lactic Acid(Lactate actually). It just keeps climbing the whole time. It is also very shaded and minimal traffic too. Have to keep this one in mind for future hill climb rides. One other note is that Huff’s Church Road, which runs along the top of these climbs is also nice too and has been recently paved. I really didn’t think the a-holes at PennDot actually pave roads anymore. They just oil and chip everything, even crappy roads. Anyway I even managed to tie for 8th on this climb. Not too bad for my first run up it.
I am now glad that is over with. Looking forward to some Zone 2/LSD workouts over the weekend. Hope it isn’t as hot as last weekend!