30 January, 2011

It's cold up at 7,581 feet (2311 m for my metric friends)!

I've been lulled into thinking the larger foothills hills are going to be warm when I look at my local forecast. 36°F (2°C) is not warm; in fact it's kind of awful to be riding a bike but they did say it was going to be in the fifties (much, much later in the day). I was prepared clothing-wise though. Brought my handy-dandy jacket but was ready to take it off if it ever hit 40°F once I got to the parking area. No luck, still cold as hell in Morrison. Right when I arrived a huuuuge cloud obscured the sun and it was like that until I arrived back to my truck (go figure).

Did a quickie ride up to Lookout Mountain (in Golden home of Coors Banquet Beer), elevation 7581' (2311 m). Started at Morrison (home of the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Bandimere Speedway), elevation 5762' (1757 m). My legs were still humming from yesterday's effort so my plan was to sit the entire way up the climb. Going up paradise there are real short 10% pitches, just enough to make my quads burn extra hot and to stress out my patellar tendon. It was freeeezing at the top. Okay so I kind of lied about the clothing gear. I wore my knee warmers thinking 50°F (10°C) was around the corner. Never showed up. Was hoping too that the north facing switchbacks were dry. It is after all January in Colorado. The top two switchbacks were wet. Took it real slow after that I opened it up but the self-induced wind chill felt as if tiny little ice picks were penetrating all my exposed skin. My shins from the knee warmers were hurting! My fingers were numb and this was the first time in a long time that my Willy was feeling the cold as well. I shivered the entire descent. Felt as if my bike was shimmying due to an alignment issue but it was my body regressing to reptilian responses genetically hardwired in our bodies to induce warmth-shivering and the chicken skin. It sucked. I just wanted to lay over in the shoulder and wrap a blanky around me until Mr. Sunshine showed up (the bastard never did!).

I'm thinking I got more miles last year at this time. Oh well, we'll see once the season's campaigns start up. My weight's down at least. The next three days we're going to be gripped in some freezing (below 0°, -7°F (-21°C),for a high on Tuesday) weather. Gotta get the miles in when I can get 'em however infrequent while not shirking the Dad stuff too often. Balance is about a beeyatch. Did I mention Mike Carter road with us yesterday?

29 January, 2011

Repetition is good x 4

Been fairly consistent in participating in the Hour of Power. Nothing special happened last week, like this week, today. The 9 o'clock hour of power group is smaller and the hammeroids show up. In fact, Michael Carter, Colorado phenom showed up and his legs announced, "My legs get better over time suckas!" The weather was excellent today; breezy but excellent. Hung in the lead group until the left hander into the park. The peloton was just echeloning like a bunch of cat IVs. This is why the State Patrol pulls us over every now and again to give us the speech. If I were a motorist, I'd be pissed. Our contract has a "good representative of the sponsors" clause and by half-wheeling the dude in front of me, past the centerline was just NOT GOOD (not good for living either). I went to start another echelon and nobody pulled through and I just plain blew up (people behind me died too). Thought I could catch 'em with a mighty surge (so as to not let the peeps behind me get a freebie), they were just dangling right there in front of me but the wind and my puny legs couldn't hang-that's when I really blew up and had to slog it in the small chainring 'til my cardiovascular system was back in synch. Patched up with some of the flotsam of the pack as we rolled in and we finished in the bigring towards the imaginary finish line.

As we're headed back into the parking area, the 10 o'clock group showed up and they were huuuge. Figured I can motorpace off these guys until my heart's back up in my throat then i'll bail back home to continue my fatherly (quasi-lame not the duties but how I execute said) duties. The baby little climb shelled fresh riders (three of us from the 9 o'clocker hopped in) and I wanted to yell at 'em, "Beetches, this is my second time around!" Before the right hand turn onto Rampart Road, I peeled off because the lactic acid was just too much. Flogging the legs and the desired result was nowhere to be seen's a good indication to back off and recover. It's only February and it's already off to the races. I worry about not getting in any base miles in the chill way as to build up a solid foundation but at this point of my ever-so-lame cycling career I have to get it any way I can. I'ma try to fire off a 40 miler tomorrow in the little ring to emulate base miles.

Downed some brown tea and chocolate milk (not together) as my free-radical reducing drink before I changed the oil (and filters) in Melissa and my vehicles (recycled the oil too). This weekend's weather's very mild, come Monday thru Wednesday it's going to be in the single digits. That ain't good.

Going to Moab with the Homey Trinity, that's going to be good...

17 January, 2011

Tree-day weekend!

Sweet Melissa took our oldest daughter and her BFF skiing this morning at WinterPark. So as the remaining members of Team M got up, we eventually all settled near the fireplace: the Chooch getting in reading log time, the Moose playing quietly and yours truly, feet up on the ottoman, reading the NYTimes drinking coffee and listening to my classical piano channel from Pandora drinking black, unadulterated, arabica bean-based coffee baby! Even though this is polar opposite to screaming down single track or descending a mountain pass with a bunch of spandex clad road-weenie-euro-race-dork-wannabees, I find it deeply satisfying, utterly enjoyable, dee-luxe chilly-chill, with equal amounts of happiness as compared to the aforementioned. Long live newspapers and the paper it's printed on! No Kindles for me please just super thin paper where the ink rubs off on your fingers if you handle/read it for a while (that'll be starter paper for kindling--no pun intended--up here in the mountains). I'll wait until the kids become starvin' Marvins and eventually, over time, they verbally remind me that they are indeed becoming "Starvin' Marvins" (in which case, I'll relent and break their fasts). Which, for today will be broken with breakfast burritos. I've already instilled a love for salsa in my younger two and what's more finer (I know, it's grammatically incorrect) than salsa flooded burritos? That's right! Nothing. Except maybe for exotic carbon fiber bike components (including deep-dish wheels) or vacation time or the smell of your brand new car (I don't have a new car currently but I've always savored those noxious chemicals leaching onto your olfactories from the dealer) or drinking boutique hand-crafted beers or swimming in the ocean or watching live Tour de France coverage or finishing top 10 in a bike race or hanging out with your honey or conquering a mogul field with fat skis or chillin' with well-behaved kids or...

Saturday was the hour of power. Since we started at 9 it was freezing. The highlights from that is I popped again at the second stair step leading into our turnaround but managed to hang with the leaders despite a very strong side wind during the wee-climb. On the downhill run to the park I attacked with Byron, took a pull and was quickly in my red-zone. In fact, I could barely stay with the group on the first, big ring roller. I unintentionally gapped Alex (going backwards) and he said some words like, "C'mon Mike!" meaning pedal that damn thing and quit going backwards. I finally sat on being lanternerouge to take a motorpace while my heart migrated back into my thoracic cavity. The finish was uneventful and my patch job on my flat of last week's still holding (yea!).

Today is MLK day. R.I.P. Mr. King and as for you James Earl Ray I hope the Hepatitis C you died of in prison was excruciatingly painful. Was going to ride but I see the mist has rolled in bringing with it a 50 percent chance of snow. I'll hop on the treadmill and attempt 5 miles instead. That's what one would call BOAAAAA-RING! The running though, is not a hindrance to my cycling; instead, running maintains my baseline (which is looowww) and improves my cycling.

Hope y'alls MLK day is restful and recreational.

09 January, 2011

First Group Ride of 2011

Sunday morning finds me with snow falling as I walk to my mailbox to get the Sunday Ed. of the New York Times. Yea! It's going to be an indoor kind of day(s) with the highs 'til Wednesday going to be in the teens (minuses for Celsius). I'll probably get on my rollers and ride it for exactly one hour. Speaking of which, I got in my first group ride of 2011 yesterday!

The Hour of Power aka the hour I first believed. Unfortunately, for me, it was neither amazing nor graceful. No, the amazing part is that I managed to stay with the first group. As usual I was nervous rolling out with the group. It was a small group so that meant I might have to take a pull or something; but there were enough hammeroids up front that I thankfully didn't have to. But I wouldda if we were gonna bust a rotating paceline...

Again as usual, the wind was a bugga-bear in the morning. As we were turning left into Waterton Canyon, I took it early and felt the full blast of the wind on my body and said to myself, self you better tuck yourself back into the peloton if you expect to survive. Saw the usual suspects. The ones I could gauge my fitness against. My only fear was this is shaping up to be such a mild winter all the other cyclists are putting in tons of miles (hence me riding rollers today) with the exception of me.

I arrived early and probably the most important pre-shit-on-your-neighbor-ride preparation (especially for my advancing years) is my warmup. Not just lolly-gagging around 30 minutes prior but doing it in a constructive manner that facilitates some sweating (prime movers warming up) and elevation of heart rate in such a way that the heart doesn't migrate up to your throat.

Everybody rolls out chilly-chill and we chat. I talk to Dean-O and Alex from the Subaru team. We usually end up racing against each other in the early season races. He's fairly beastly. Has the morphology of trackie. In fact, there's quite a bit of Subaru riders in the pack, a couple of Vitamin Cottage Masters guys (me included I suppose), and a junior rider from the Garmin-Transitions development team-Greg (whom I ended up talking to during our return trip to Chatfield-nice young man with quite the cardiovascular system apparently).

People start getting their drawers all bunched up at the right turn that leads us to the climb before Arrowhead Golf Course. Yesterday though, they got all jiggy on the little riser before the right turn. Since I motorpace (off the back) I start seeing the rider(s) in front of me start to fade and get gap'd so the other tailgunners, we go around 'em like a reverse parting of the Red Sea. At the actual climb again just a few riders peel off and again the reverse Red Sea parting continues. The last final push before our turn around sees me going in reverse and I say I need to change my 23 toofer into a 25 bailout gear sometime when the season starts. At the turnaround the leaders wait and that gives me an opportunity to see who made the cut. Some of the unusual suspects got dropped so that makes my (lack of) fitness appropriation satisfying for early season. I guess by now there's a dozen and change of us left.

The downhill back to Chatfield is big ring, spinning exercise. I swear people like to go with their hair on fire for this. People get dropped on these downhill sections but that was not my case today. Tucked in nicely but I was spinning like a fiend to stay in the slipstream. There are some stout rollers in the park and after the momentum of the downhill starts to recede, these same hammeroids get out the saddle and march their 53x12s out-of-the-saddle to get over the last 200m or so of the uphill and yo-yo-ing of the back of the pack begins. Instead of keeping my position up the climb, I let the slipstream drag me up on the right hand side. I pass people that'a way and I'm still seated albeit spinning some big gears. Saves energy. That's how I ran into the 16 year-old Greg the junior. I was passing him and commented for a young 'un he's hanging tough. After exchanging names and pleasantries, the wind changed to a side wind and off we go to different positions in the pack, echeloning towards Chatfield.

The sprint to the imaginary finish line (it's actually a yellow sign on the right hand side of the road) wasn't quite as cut-throaty (as in normal races). Dave highlighted his teammate burying his face in his handlebars on the far left side of the road and everybody pops out of their saddle (it looks like popcorn popping, very funny and visually unusual) to chase him down and launch attacks of their own but the majority of pack settles down and slowly we chase all the breakaways and I end up spinning the big gear seated until the finish line. Yea! First group ride bagged and I finish upright. I did notice though I had a rear tire flat. Thought I felt like I was doing a bunch of work for nothing once I entered the park.

It was from my roller workouts squaring off the rear tire making it super sticky for road debris to weasel their way through my tire's threadbare casing. Once I got back to my truck I placed the once-rear tire now as the front and vice-versa; but breaking the bead was about a beeyatch! Once I replaced and pumped both tires to 80 psi (I didn't bring my floor pump) from my frame pump, I was pooped out. So me and my pooped out self tacked on a climb up Deer Creek but thankfully the roads were so wet and semi-frozen my tiredness said you better turn around before you crash due to lack of traction (up or downhill).

Burned about 1400 calories, so boys and girls I do believe there's a doughnut waiting for me in my immediate future.

02 January, 2011

Penultimate Period of Playtime Pending a Post Portraying Participatory Phenomena

As you can see, the snow makes for outdoor training difficult
Damn, tomorrow signals the end of my Christmas Break. Been eating like it's going out of style but have been cancelling out the consistent intake of kilocalories by running, skiing, and riding the rollers episodically.

Been thinking about how my 2011 cycling season's gonna pan out. My modus operandi has been doing the early season, spring races (not the big ones) until Colorado's snow has melted in the high country and the WinterPark XC/Downhill series begins. Can't do the early, long distance races--the 80 mile plus road races--due to not having enough early season endurance in the legs yet and I can talk myself out of doing criteriums. Here's how I accomplish that (blowing off criteriums): It takes about an hour for me to get to Denver from where I live--one way--and my events are an hour long. So I say to myself, Self? You are in the car twice as long as the race is, and, the cost of gas (to get to the event) is less than or equal to the entrance fee. Now that's some rationale. It depends on how my Winter training (I said training) comes through. What I normally do is I get myself into some early season crits and see where my fitness falls into the pecking order of the peloton (which is usually at the far left of the bell curve), then maybe I'll commit to more races. Racing towards fitness. If my fitness sucks, the weekends are reserved for constructive workouts (or just piling in a bunch of miles with some intensity thrown in) and group rides. I wanna do the Battle the Bear (Creek) 50 mile XC race in April. That's a good one to fire up the system.

I have mental encumbrances planning out roller workouts during the work week too. Two hours of commuting, and another hour workout? Don't have enough hours in the day to ensure I spend time with the kids doing homework or even planning out my days' next lesson. The punkins are getting older so maybe, once they're more independent, I can ferret out some actual training that involves group rides. Training solo has its advantages. Mainly don't have to wait for the rest of my party to show up; but, my perceived exertion may or may not trick me into thinking my intensity's hard enough (no peer present to compare it to). I have no idea how hard to go to make the break if I'm flying solo. Don't have any machinery that displays watts just m.p.h. and my reptilian brainstem says, Dang Mikey you sho is going hard and shtuff. Don't you think you need a rest? Need a group ride to suss out my fitness and any resulting improvement thereafter.
Yes, you read it right -7°F currently and if you look at the bottom it dropped all the way to -13°F that night before!
Here's what I have done this week: two roller workouts ever since wind currents from the Arctic nether regions visited us lately. This translated into frigid temps even with the sun overhead. Talking about single digit temps. Coupled with my 3 mile jaunts on the dreadmill (treadmill) hopefully this is making the fire of metabolism burn with a wee bit more intensity. I also finished The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Excellent read, highly recommend it (see sidebar).

My roller workouts consist of doing alternating, minute-two minute-three minute-four minute-five minute (then reverse) periods of big ring spinning over 25 mph with the same amount of time recovering. I try to do this for an hour. One hour on the rollers is like my real time version of Sisyphus. It is singularly the most mentally painful thing I endure. I don't put any cheater railings to help stay gyroscopically afloat neither. Here's how I mount my steed: I put my dominant (foot) pedal at the 12 o'clock then I push down and get the other foot clicked in and I'm off! How am i going to train for road racing and attempt a half marathon come June? I better get off my arse and do some planning or hire a coach (or I can save the money and buy boutique beers!).

To break things up mentally, I try and get a new max speed without falling off the rollers. I slap the chain on the 53X12 and spin it like a fiend! Can't seem to break 50 mph.

My friend Chip, back-in-the-day when we were teammates in Texas, had a team roller workout at the shop that sponsored us and we were going for top speed, roller records and he beat me by 2 mph: 57 mph. He promptly fell off the bike and put a big rug burn on the sales floor carpet and the head mechanic was pissed because he had to clean it up.

Just got back from skiing with my girls again! They/we all did an ungroomed bowl today and attempted moguls. I got a kind comment from another male skier when he saw me towing my middle daughter (via my ski pole) up a hill using my mad XC skiing skate skills (albeit alpine skis). He said you're a good father! I replied I'm trying to get 'em hooked [on skiing]. The moguls kinda killed 'em but boy did we have a blast today! Work starts up tomorrow. NOT looking forward to that...