It only take a moment to bookmark this page and use these links!
I’ve applied and been accepted as a rider in the Four Horsemen of the Solstice, a 24-hour event covering ~250 miles and 30,000+ vertical feet.
If figure that completing the Four Horsemen sets me up well for the 2014 Everest Challenge. My intention is to complete it, then ride the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge a week later. If I can do those, perhaps I have a shot at 1st place (men’s masters 45-54) in the 2014 Everest Challenge.
2013 was problematic, but my strong 2012 season I attribute to completing a variety of challenging rides during the season: Death Valley Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (and Sequoia Century 200K and Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak).
Hence my focus on really hard stuff in 2014.
Click for larger.
With the Solvang Sprint Double Century only 2 weeks away, and fitness and power hitting new highs, I figured it was now or never to test myself, to prove out that my legs and feet and hands could handle it, knowing full well that risk of injury was non-zero given less than complete adaptation to my slightly modified cycling position. Still, there was no realistic alternative because jumping to a double century from ~2 hours training rides is a Bad Idea without at least one more strenuous effort to flush out issues.
So I took a day off to let my legs fully recover, and that felt great going out the next day, with what I term “high and effortless power”.
While it was only 3.5 hours, this ride was my longest and hardest of the year, and the climbs were at relatively hard efforts sufficient to force out any serious issues.
I learned a few things:
- Though peak power and anaerobic power need improvement (that’s a summer thing), cardiovascular fitness is already excellent and far superior to last year, to the tune of 20 bpm on the smaller climbs (10:22 and 11:01 efforts at beginning/end). It is also approaching 2012 levels, which was my best-ever year.
- Taking total riding weight into account, ascent times are far in advance of last year and approaching my best year, 2012.
- Leg muscles showed fatigue over the course of the ride, but in spite of this I was able to carry consistently high power even to the end of the ride. The feeling can be recognized as one that responds well to a few punishing rides over the course of the season, which forces adaptive gains.
- Some right leg musculature discomfort. It’s hard to be sure, but this might simply be weak muscles trying to adapt to a relatively new riding position. But it also seems that foot support is lacking and that has to be addressed with an orthotic perhaps (right foot shoe fit and support a longstanding challenge).
- Just a bit of “hot foot” in right shoe, which is perhaps most concerning for a double century. This occurred in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and so is not new; it is probably related to need for better foot support (orthotic).
Click for larger graph.
I used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about an hour after the workout discussed above. The benefits were obvious when done; rather than very stiff legs they felt limber after the treatment, and next-day feel was surprisingly limber.
Normally my legs become very uncomfortable after a hard ride, because I sit down for some hours of computer work. But I’ve figured out how to sit and use the Marc Pro while I work (feet on the foam roller allows the quads to relax while sitting). But with the Marc Pro, no stiffness after these hours of work. A HUGE improvement over the alternative of achy legs I have been used to.
The foam roller after the Marc Pro is a great combination; the muscles are much more pliable and relaxed after the electro stimulation. Great combination.
A change to bike fit was discouraging and painful for the better part of a week, but it seems to be worked out now, involving saddle position and tilt.
The main issue remains my right leg, which over the year has always been the grumpy one, never entirely happy and always unhappy about changes in position or shoes. That leg has always liked to rotate outward (heel in, toe out). At present, the main issue is muscle pain and some patella achiness, but it all seems to be adapation-related and not anything ugly like internal joint point. So I am cautiously optimistic.
Bike fit for me is an ongoing project, but I’ve gotten a lot of the twist out of my hips caused by an asymmetric crank in 2012 that resulting in a “windswept” riding position.
Still, it is a complex challenge, relating to symmetry on the saddle, foot support and years of baked-in miles. 3DBikeFit.comis patiently helping me through this process, the issue being that neither of my legs likes significant changes all at once, so that the “best fit” might mean “can’t handle the change”. Since I don’t have six months to slowly adapt, my working approach is now incremental changes: change saddle slightly, adapt, consider shoes and orthotics, adapt, etc. This seems to be working out OK here in 2014.
A change to saddle position (~+12mm forward and ~2mm down) caused painful and very discouraging effects for a few days;. Though it looked felt fine and good in the lab as per videos, my right leg seems to be highly reactive to changes.
So I backed-out out the change to ~+5mm forward (still ~2mm down), and that is now working very well, once I found the right saddle tilt (see below). That change might not sound like much, but has these measurable benefits:
- Cadence is settling in at about 5 rpm higher; it’s a smoother place to spin.
- Power is up by ~15 watts (probably saddle tilt benefits).
- Hip rotation and stability/support on saddle is now just about perfect.
The point is that position matters a great deal. The 5mm freed me up noticeably, though the saddle tilt was clearly the most critical thing.
The tilt of the saddle and the saddle itself allow the pelvis to rotate into (or not) a powerful position that allows fully (or not) use of the powerful gluteal muscles. If that hip rotation is blocked then the gluteal muscles cannot be fully utilized and power is sub-optimal. Moreover, the gluteal muscles resist fatigue and recover quickly, so using them fully is critical.
As I discovered, the complicating factor is that a bike in the lab (with video) is not the same as on the road, not for me at least. I have to tweak the position precisely to be comfortable. In particular, my long torso means that small saddle-angle changes are a big deal for comfort and power:
- Saddle angled down too much and my hands quickly get uncomfortable from taking too much weight;
- Saddle angled up too much and I can’t rotate my hips for optimal power (“blocked”). This presumes a saddle that doesn’t itself block out hip rotation (which kills power from the gluteus, many saddles prevent this hip rotation).
- Saddle position fore/aft (reach) has to match the tilt for just the right balance/support point!
But I finally seems to have gotten the saddle just right:
- Specialized Romin EVO, 155mm width (I have sit bones that are 10-15mm wide than usual, standard saddles do not support my butt properly).
- 532 mm from tip of saddle to center of bar clamp.
- 2.5° downward tilt as measured by an digital inclinometer placed on a flat thin stiff board on saddle for repeatable accuracy of 0.1°. (don’t try to relate this number another saddle; mine looks to be close to level but the rear of saddle rises slightly and that is part of the measurement for this saddle).
As little as 0.5° of saddle tilt is quite noticeable for hand comfort or hip rotation.
The troublesome factor is that tightening the bolts can make the saddle tilt up to ~1.5°! So tweak and measure with an inclinometer.
Most drivers are prudent, but it’s clear that distracted driving is a serious problem too. Of those situations, some are aggressive drivers, a few are mentally disturbed malicious individuals*, but taking the troublesome minority of drivers as a group, most are simply careless or impatient (an “accident”). Hence my concern about iOS in a car leading to distracted driving.
Along comes Apple with the idea that iOS in the car is a good idea (Apple CarPlay). Since when are messaging and videos and similar distractions a good combination with driving, particularly with teenagers? Teenagers tweeting in cars and watching videos and status updates from friends with built-in iOS makes me nervous. As did a recent incident with two teenage girls gyrating wildly (including the driver) to “do you wanna be my lover” while tailgating the car ahead and passing me on my bicycle. OMG.
Though one might already bow in defeat to the reality of iPhone (ab)use in vehicles already, it is a fair question to ask how many people will end up dead or mangled as a result of inappropriate usage once the idea is accepted by virtue of it being a built-in part of driving. That number is not going to be zero.
To be fair to Apple, it is a general issue and someone is going to do it anyway. I don’t have the answers here, but driving and iOS-like technologies aren’t likely to ever be a good idea. Maybe a multi-way proximity sensor that shuts off functionality would make some mitigation sense, and while I abhor tracking, a “black box” recorder noting usage of messaging and similar features could be appropriate for determining culpability, including criminal culpability, so “accident” is not an excuse.
* In one encounter I was hit by a disturbed individual who the CHP neglected to even ticket in spite of a witness shocked by what he saw. That disturbed driver caused an indirect death (heart attack) in a road-rage incident ~2 years later.
A squirrel and a cyclist
This image was taken near my mailbox. I walked out to retrieve my mail, and I was shocked to see this alert creature full of life squashed right before my very eyes. Like a light switch shut off, only a one-way deal. I did not want to photograph it (a sort of awful feeling), but as an act of will, I did so.
About two months ago, it might have been me—literally 30 feet away. As I was about to turn left into my very own driveway on my sleepy 25mph street, an impatient driver (quite young) went by me at 35 mph or so, over on the wrong side of the road nearly hitting the left curb passing me (I was doing ~20 mph myself). Only a last backward glance kept me from being crumpled the same way, a glance-habit I have now ingrained, generally as a “double double” glance (two directions, twice). And it’s why I take a dim view of iOS installed in a moving deadly weapon.
My riding impressions of the Lightweight Autobahn VR in terms of power savings and aerodynamics are now online.
See also the Autobahn VR overview and initial impressions.
There are some things out there with regards to power meters, seemingly perpetuated by those who don’t own one, or who cannot separate cost from value.
Having used the SRM power meters for three years now (about 30,000 miles), I can vouch that they are reliable, and that includes the crankset and the PC7 head unit.
Specifications are not performance, and reliability is the total system over time. New stuff can sound good on paper, but my long experience with Stuff of all kinds makes me wary of paper claims.
Let’s take one downright goofy “issue” bandied about: user-replaceable batteries for a power meter.
- The new Pioneer power meter has a ~180 hour battery life, with user-replaceable CR2032 batteries.
- The SRM power meters have a 3000 hour battery life.
Consider that '3000' hours number fist: that’s two hours of training for 1500 days = 4.1 years training two hours a day. For me that would be about 37,500 miles and I would have long since worn out the chainrings. Yet battery life is an “issue”? It’s ludicrous to call that a legitimate concern.
Now consider the 180 hour battery life of the new Pioneer unit (claimed, to be proven out with real use). In reality, once usage goes beyond 130 hours or so, that nagging thought pops up before a trip or race: maybe the battery is further long than it ought to be?
So to be sure, it has to be replaced! And you have to do this 16 times over the same time span as that 3000-hour SRM, even if you took it to 180 hours each time, which you don’t because you start to worry around 150 hours, which is much more realistic.
Then the chances of not getting the Pioneer unit sealed up properly (a worn or damaged gasket, gasket not fitted in quite right, etc) means that the chances of a failure go WAY UP from water leakage. Moreover, the time wasted replacing batteries could be spent riding, or drinking red wine. And the batteries are neither free nor free of some losses over several years. And with two transmitters and two batteries (one in each crank), the risk of an issue is in reality doubled. That is the Way Stuff Works in the Real World.
The SRM approach is far superior in my book—long term trouble-free operation.
Pioneer Electronics has a new power meter on the market.
The Pioneer offering is intriguing “on paper”: it measures power from both cranks and there is a head unit can display the power from each crank independently. Moreover it supports a wide variety of DuraAce and Ultegra cranks.
- Total weight is hard to understand given all the parts and the two different head units. Mounting bracket for the head unit is another not-stated weight.
- Mounting looks relatively complicated, with magnets on both sides and two two transmitters. My concern would reliability over time as well as whether the 2% accuracy (no mention of precison) figure means no more than 2% between crank arms.
- The per-crank power readout is of keen interest to me in optimizing my pedaling, assuming the two measurements are as accurate as claimed. As is the stated 12-point measurement system (every 30° of rotation).
- Iit seems that it is a system has to be installed on a user-supplied crank, which makes its price closer to the SRM offering than one might otherwise realize.
- ANT based wireless.
- Battery life of ~180 hours at normal temperatures is about 1/16 as long as the latest SRM offering (3000 hours), but is a user-replaceable CR2025. I’m not thrilled about battery swapping; all my experience tells me that the risk of water leaks goes up every time something is opened (gaskets wear). 180 hours is only 90 days of riding for me.
- 2 year warranty vs 3 year worldwide warranty for SRM.
- Software support is online (Cyclo-Sphere “cloud” software “Robust and Effective Post Ride Cloud Based Analysis”). Which means an internet upload is required to make use of the recorded data. The analysis sample shows some promise in data analysis, but as soon as the window is refreshed, all my sizing changes (of a graph) reset back to the small size. The presented data also looks quite choppy even with smoothing.
My initial impression of support is not a good one, simply based on trying: I was frustrated in finding any means to inquire (press or customer) short of a detailed generic form for all Pioneer products.
A product is the total of the hardware, its track record of reliability, support, software, etc. As it stands, the premium for an SRM power meter still looks well worth it to anyone who values proven reliability with support. For me, a power meter is a serious tool. I’m not looking to save money by compromising the experience, which makes assessing such a new product quite a challenge.
There is a new SRM head unit and software coming in late summer, and I expect this will raise the SRM game in several ways. SRM support has been terrific and the reliability has been outstanding. While the software has its shortcomings, its simple and fast to use. It takes a lot to sway me in another direction.
As there is a hub-body offset difference between 10-speed and 11-speed DuraAce, this had been an open question. PAB installed an 11-speed freehub body onto a Lightweight-brand rear wheel and checked it out on an 11-speed DuraAce bike.
Conclusion from PAB: other than inner cogs being ~1mm closer to spokes, everything sits in pretty much the same place and there should be excellent compatibility.
This is excellent news for me, as I have four rear wheels, and I was very concerned that this would present a difficult barrier to ever moving to 11-speed DuraAce. While I’m in no hurry to switch, it’s nice to know that the cost of doing so won’t involved replacing four rear wheels!
I had an interesting conversation with SRM today, the SRM power meters having been reliable solutions for me over years on Moots Vamoots RSL and Moots Psychlo X RSL and other bikes prior (one bad Reed switch quickly fixed last year, nothing’s perfect).
I learned several things which might not be news to all, but bear repeating:
- The latest DuraAce 9000 / DuraAce 9050 compacts can take interchangeable crank arm lengths without any recalibration of the SRM needed, though these are a special crank arm made for SRM by Shimano (Shimano FC-SR70).
The rings can also be swapped out for another size.
- The DA 9000/9050 battery life is up to a whopping 3000 hours, which is good for many years of life (2 hours a day or riding = 1500 days = 4 years), which is a very long lifetime).
- A new PC8 head unit is due out in late summer which will support ANT and GPS and Stages power cranks, the latter being exciting to me so I can run power on my mountain bikes, which I’ve long wanted.
Nothing shifts like DuraAce and so maybe I will bite the bullet and get one set up with 172.5mm crank arms, but also with a set of 170mm crank arms because I want to try the 170mm size once my body (legs) settle down.
See also Pioneer Electronics power meter.
50 X 34 Praxis rings, 172.5mm cranks. $2000 / best offer.
Update: I’ve sent this crank into SRM to see if it can be updated to the latest model (looks like it can be, but confirming). If so, that's a big plus.
Praxis rings on it are new as of ~May 2013, and the SRM itself was serviced with new battery in July 2013, so it’s good to go for a long time (in other words, very low wear on the rings and not much run time on the battery). Parts used for installation in the PressFit 30 bottom bracket included.
You will need the SRM head unit or a Garmin or so on to get the power readings.
I’ve been feeling leaner, including the pinch test in key indicator places (hip, mid-stomach, inside thigh). All such thing pointed to notably lower body fat, and my legs have shown a big ramp up in power and endurance over multi-day periods.
But the scale stayed stubbornly limited in range. A clustering with downtrend, but one simply not reflecting the additive daily caloric deficit very well.
But about four days ago I sensed that I was poised for a bump down in weight—the way I tend to drop the pounds is frustrating with the nothing-happens-for-3-weeks thing, then a sudden drop, as if the body “lets go” of a “set point” and lets it drop 2-3 pounds down to a new set point (resistance level), all in the course of a week or so.
Well hydrated the past two days, this morning’s weight dropped below 175, a key area of resistance for me personally, as the 3-year graph shows. I am “pushing” on it hard now in training, my goal being to hit late spring at ~170 or so, so that I can do the Four Horsemen of the Solstice and Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge Double leaned-out. Because carrying even one more pounds up 30,000 or 20,500 feet really does matter.
For the Everest Challenge, I’d really like to hit a sea-level weight of 165, which would put me around 162 for the race, which translates to 15-20 minutes faster than 2012, all things being equal. Minus ~5 minutes for heavier bike parts this year (DuraAce SRM crank) = 10-15 minutes faster just by being leaner.
Click for larger graph. Notes below.
Notes on the graph above:
- It’s much easier to maintain a large caloric deficit when relatively overweight, so long as fitness allows a substantial calorie “burn” each day. As the body get leaner, it holds onto fat stores more and more stubbornly. Losing 2 pounds at 20% body fat is far easier than doing that at 8% body fat. This is seen at left of graph where your author started at about 22% body fat in 2011.
- If hungry too much of the time, you’re either over-efforting (starving yourself) or eating too much or eating the wrong foods and/or eating food the wrong way. Starving yourself in particular is hugely counterproductive, because the body burns off muscle and goes into survival mode.
- Body weight can fluctuate as much as 5 pounds for a ~180 pound male: hydration, 3 pounds of bulky food in the gut, fluid retention after very hard workouts, etc. That is why graphing is critical, it lets you be rational about the trend, which is all that matter.
- The “set point” effect is readily seen in the sideways clustering of many points. It can be very frustrating to break out of such patterns. Two things can help. First, maintain an average caloric deficit of 300-500 calories and track your weight properly and graph it. Eat more when the body cries out, but do not eat much beyond +300.
Second, throw in days that do not allow you to “eat it back”: a century will burn off 1/2 pound of fat for sure, a double century a full pound. It won’t come back and you wont’t be hungry, because you can still eat enough to feel full.
- The deep plunges in Sept 2011, Sept 2012, August 2013 correspond to acclimatizing at 10,000 - 11,000 feet just before the Everest Challenge.
My body always and without fail sheds ~3 pounds and stays there at hour ~36 or so after going to altitude. It is not dehydration in the normal sense; it is a physiological adaptation probably associated with the “spleen dump” of red blood cells; urine is clear and fluid intake is ample, peeing is a nuisance for the first 48 hours. Returning to sea level, the effect reverses just as quickly. See Acclimatizing for the Everest Challenge and Acclimatizing to Altitude.
Sometime training goes on and it seems interminable, with good days, mediocre days, days that just suck overall. And then there are days that show that all the effort has paid off. Today was such a day for me, after two solid months of disciplined effort.
My legs were toast yesterday, with achiness and suffering from 4-5 days of moderately-high wattage but 2 hour rides, taking a steady toll. Following my rule of “ride every day but cut to 1/2 or 1/3 duration when flagging”, I cut my workout to 1/3 of normal, but I also did the following:
- Used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about 20 minute on my aching quads.
- Did my usual daily foam roller bit (reduces some of the achiness, relaxes tight muscles).
- Got ~11 hours of sleep. I’m finding that sleep is critical at my late middle age. Still strong, but if I get 8 hours instead of 10 hours after a hard workout day, my body cannot cope with more than 2-3 good workouts before getting cranky quads and gluteus.
Holy cow. The combination worked, as I had the strongest workout of the year, what I refer to as “free flowing power”: it takes an effort, but a moderately hard effort seems easier than the day before with 'toast legs', and yet the power was ~70 watts higher (e.g., ~270 watts vs 200 watts). The power of sleep and recovery and perhaps, the Marc Pro, which definitely made those aching quads feel much better the night before and the next day’s recovery (after several days of achiness) were pretty awesome.
I’m rather excited: things are lining up for a very strong season because the feeling is that I’ve just nudged into Tier 2 (see below), and it’s only late February. While my right leg musculature remains a little cranky, I think it will sort out, and unlike last year, no knee issues or shoulder surgery to kill the training season.
Training has its seasonalities and setbacks. I bucket my fitness into four groups:
- Peak condition (Tier 1): just before the Everest Challenge: high power output, everything can take a beating for 4 or 5 days and feel decent, double centuries or similar feel decent, leaned-out to 7-8% body fat. Awesome place to be, very hard to stay there.
- Tier 2: sub-peak condition, very strong, endurance very strong but not yet at its peak, peak power not yet there (off by 5% or so); abusive workouts less well tolerated, times 5% or so off best. Carrying 3-4 pounds extra body fat, which is still very noticeable vs leaned-out Tier 1.
- Tier 3: late winter/ early spring: endurance very good, but 3-4 hours at moderate intensity is still a solid workout. Carrying 5-8 pounds extra body fat, which sucks when ascending.
- Tier 4: winter / off season: up to 10 extra pounds, reasonably strong but endurance well off the mark, reduced peak power by 15% or so, recovery not so great after moderately hard 2 hour workout.
SRM power graphs
Entire workout: 258 watts @ 139 bpm (includes downhills section pedaling, excludes a few minutes of begin/end nothing).
Click graph to view larger. All power figures are smooth at 1% in SRMMac.
The first 86 minutes: 269 watts @ 142 bpm.
A sort of negative split with power increasing slightly to end.
The next day
I used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about half an hour for recovery the evening after the workout discussed above. I was impressed with how good my legs felt the next day, and I am sure that the Marc Pro helped. They were not recovered fully (an unreasonable expectation), but but how did they do?
Here is the next day’s workout. A warmup into a 22:00 climb of OLH felt like a hard effort with legs not at full spec, but remarkably doable. That was followed by an aerobic spin, though a flat tire interrupted it as I nursed it home*. I followed that workout up with the Marc Pro again, and it really made my legs feel more relaxed and less achy. The Marc Pro works.
* A glass cut meant that the Stan’s NoTubes didn’t get me far; I had to peel the tire and use my spare tubular). See Stans NoTubes Sealant for Repair of Tubular Tires. The sealant had saved this tire twice before in weeks prior, but this 6mm long cut from glass was just too big a gash. May there be a Dante-ring for the dirt bags who drink and throw bottles out the window.
Click for larger graph.
And the next
Using the Marc Pro muscle stimulator on the 2nd day’s workout, I could feel the ache disappear when done. And I’ll be darned if a 3rd solid workout did not follow in turn. The legs were not fully recovered, but they could make good power and keep it turned on. The Marc Pro is a very beneficial recovery aid, and this can be felt in relief from achy muscles as soon as the session is done.
Shown below is the Lightweight Autobahn front wheel with a Lightweight Standard (Lightweight Mielenstein) on the rear. The Autobahn VR is similar to a favorite of mine, the Lightweight VR8, though the VR8 has the rim depth of the Standard.
|Rim depth:||81 mm|
|Rim width:||19.5 mm|
|Tire width:||19-27 mm|
|Max system weight:||90 kg|
With about 200 miles on the Autobahn front wheel, I’m really liking it:
- No hard numbers, but it feels fast. Glances at the speedo suggest that I’m not going slower by any means. Hazarding a guesstimate based on power meter, I’m estimating a savings of somewhere around 5 watts or so at 25 mph, and maybe 10 watts at 32 mph or so (versus my already good other front wheels). Very rough guesses based on power meter readings.
- It’s a terrific wheel on descents, such as upper paved Alpine Road in my local area; I can rip down with great confidence in supremely precise handling with the Autobahn.
- It requires more attention to cross winds, and no riding with hands off the bar (!), but it is much more stable than I had thought it might be, meaning it can be an everyday choice. Its mass of 840 grams is 85% that of a the set of Obermayer wheels (figures without tire or skewer). Which gives it enough inertia to resist buffeting much better than I had expected, so much so that I’m riding it every day. I have yet to experience a strong side-wind, but wind in my face or a angled cross winds are A-OK.
- Comfort is excellent.
It’s a terrific wheel that is far more versatile than I had imagined. Probably hugely undersold for its capabilities based on what I’m feeling on the road. I’ll probably just keep riding it every day, because so far no wind conditions have been problematic.
The Everest Challenge is a 10-month training effort, at least to be competitive. But for me to have a chance at the podium (Men’s Masters 45-54) this year requires not only disciplined training for endurance and power, but maximizing the power-to-weight ratio for those grueling climbs. Well, and my right leg has to cooperate and it’s being cranky at present, but no joint issues at least.
It means getting my body weight down to a stretch goal of 165 (sea level), 168 being acceptable, but no higher. Those figures mean body fat of around 6%, which my body finds quite unappetizing and fights all the way down, getting more and more efficient at utilizing calories (steady-state for me is around 12% even with a good amount of exercise). It means breaking through 2 or 3 “set points”; weights which the body does not like to drop below. For me that’s generally 180, 174, 170 pounds. And it means doing so while losing fat and minimizing muscle loss.
Recording weight every morning and graphing it is essential to ensure staying on track because 2-3 pound variations can occur, which can be discouraging. But with daily recording a trend emerges and this is a psychological boost and motivator. Or a chance to correct course: I had a devilishly hard time losing any weight in December/January though maybe my body was trading some fat for some muscle (so I hope). But I saw that it wasn’t working, so I dropped the red wine which was wrecking my daily deficit.
So I’ve refocused my efforts, which means counting calories (weighing to the gram for accurate intake figures), using kilojoules => calories from my SRM power meter for highly accurate energy expenditure figures, and most challenging, always being a little hungry. It took me a few weeks to refresh this skill which does not come easy: it means constantly being aware of whether it’s real hunger or busy-eating.
Click graph to view larger.
Cleaning out the garage. Lightly ridden tubular wheel in great shape.
- ZIPP 404 rear tubular wheel with mounted tire.
- Shimano DuraAce 12-27 cassette, lightly used, little wear.
- Included glued-on tire (several years old, recommended to peel tire, but has very little usage).
Asking $700 off as shown. See also SRM Hollowgram for sale.
Click for larger image.
So much for warm weather—off the bike for two days amid the drizzle. Tomorrow, it’s a ride day whether its pouring rain or not.
I’m mapping out my 2014 rides to prepare for the 2014 Everest Challenge.
I had a strong season in 2012 that I attribute in good measure to completing a variety of challenging rides during the season: Death Valley Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (and Sequoia Century 200K and Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak).
So this year my plan is to emulate that approach, though Death Valley Double has been cancelled by employess of the NPS jobs program.
The one ride I am unsure of as yet (my right leg has to be in full agreement) is the Four Horsemen of the Solstice (invitation only, see also AntiGravity calendar). Essentially, it is the Everest Challenge+extra in one day.
Check out the mid-winter temperature gradient (purple line, which hits 81°F). The colder temps are in the shade/canyon, but still 60° F and above. Summer jersey riding in late January.
This is by far the best winter training in 30 years. But the hills are still brown like summer.
1/2 mile from home, my tire was slashed open in the same spot as a few months ago. Tubular or not the tire was toast. But a pinhole leak in the front tire was plugged nicely by Stan’s No Tubes; see my Tubular Tires and Punctures.
As I’ve aged, I find that I am less and less tolerant of late-nighters, a situation I too often find myself in from my 80 hour work week (many years now). Not that all-nighters ever felt good even in my 20's.
Hence this article from the BBC that resonated for me:
The human body has its own natural rhythm or body clock tuned to sleep at night and be active during the day.
It has profound effects on the body, altering everything from hormones and body temperature to athletic ability, mood and brain function.
Blood tests showed that normally 6% of genes - the instructions contained in DNA - were precisely timed to be more or less active at specific times of the day.
I’m always skeptical of small or one-off studies, and this study involved only 22 people, so by itself it should be greeted with skepticism. However, it certainly meshes with “feeling lousy” if I stay up a bit too late.
Three strong days in a row bode well when getting lousy sleep and having had a private celebration last night in which a bottle of champagne* was consumed for refueling. :;
Check out that mid-winter temperature gradient!
* Translation for French readers: sparkling wine.
My heart rate readings (red line) have bene showing these annoying spikes lately. I’m unsure if its interference or something else. My max is ~175 bpm.
Winter here in California is the warm and unfriendly kind.
Check out the temperature gradient (purple) in the graph below: 30 minutes into the ride the sun has set over the hills and I’m wearing a summer jersey and not cold at all. I’ve had colder rides in the middle of July. But this is the dead of winter.
And so it goes for weeks now—a terrific drought from a high pressure blocking ridge which is delivering absolutely perfect riding weather.
There will be nasty consequences for California (and the nation) this year if the blocking ridge doesn’t move aside and let some torrential winter storms roll in. Fields will have to be fallowed, rationing becomes a certainty in many areas, fire risk is already serious, maybe even the trout in my favorite Yosemite creek will be killed off as the normally dry watercourse goes entirely dry.
The graph below is 68 minutes of an 81 minute workout; it shows a strong effort (for me) this time of year (231 watts at heart rate of 134 bpm).
The training effects are already showing up as higher wattage at a lower heart rate; I typically see a 10-15 beat drop in heart rate for the same wattage from poorest to peak condition over the course of the year. So far, things are looking positive for a very strong year, though I’m having real difficulty losing any weight. Hopefully that’s fat loss and muscle gain trading places! But my body just hates being starved in the winter; I think it’s hormonal and tied to seasonal cues of sunlight and similar.
Note on graph: my heart rate readings have bene showing these annoying spikes lately. I’m unsure if its interference or something else.
Now dont’t jump the gun here, you elk and deer hunters, and feminists. I mean tree nuts, more or less.
As I’ve noted in past writings, I tend to eat oatmeal and nuts a lot—nuts just about every day: tree nuts such as pistachios, black walnuts, almonds and occassionally brazil nuts and others, also peanuts.
I’ve studied my physiological metrics over the years and concluded that getting down to < 10% body fat as my diet with a lot of oatmeal and nuts and fresh foods always makes me feel better, not to mention HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) as high as 104 (way out on the tail of the curve, excellent is around 60-70 tyically).
While I prefer to see many studies confirm health findings, it seems that it’s no accident that nuts are related to good health. Science news reports:
The study, the largest to tie nut consumption to longevity, jibes with work showing that the oils in nuts can reduce bad cholesterol and possibly inflammation. “If you take the evidence in its totality, the picture being painted by science is quite strongly that nuts improve health,” says Cyril Kendall, a nutritionist at the University of Toronto.
As I discussed last year, I have generally increased my fat intake during periods of heavy training; much of that comes from nuts. Works for me.
Get a bike fit NOW so that winter training (lighter and easer) gives the body time to adjust to the new fit—before the muscles have grown “summer strong” and thus can exert more force on the joints. Even small changes cause different forces on joints, so adaptation over time is wise.
The Everest Challenge is a 10-month training effort, done right. And so that’s what I’ve been doing for about a month now—base aerobic training at ~70% of max HR, with a few higher-effort days mixed in
It doesn’t hurt that this has been the driest and warmest December that I can recall in 30 years. Perfect for cycling.
The effects are exerting themselves:
- The (frustrating) upward body weight trend has been sharply reversed.
- Heart rate is trending lower for the same power output.
- Improved recovery for same load; ability to ride a bit longer/harder on days following higher exertion workouts.
See previous winter training notes.
Note the significant day-to-day variation of body weight: it is why recording your weight every morning and graphing it can be helpful: even with 2-3 pound swings the trend quickly emerges and this is a psychological boost and motivator.
Click graph to view larger.
The late-December plunge is real (not dehydration) and due to near daily efforts ranging from 1000 - 1800 calorie rides. Goal is ~175 by end of January which positions me well for ~167 by September (fat loss gets harder and harder).
A strong workout (for me) for this time of year.
Just confirmed with Everest Challenge organizer Steven Barnes—
Everest Challenge 2014: September 26/27, 2014.
I’ve started my training for the 2014 Everest Challenge. Realistically, it’s a 10-month effort to get in peak condition that allows me a chance at top-5, or for 2014 top-3 if all goes well.
Last year, a knee problem and shoulder surgery eliminated 2/3 of the training season. But now, all bodes well for unfettered training for the 2014 effort with a symmetric crankset on a more powerful bike position.
I’ve been riding most days now for a few weeks, after a hectic October/November travel and work schedule, with 7-10 day gaps in riding several times.
My data based on the 2011/2012 season tells me that a high personal performance at the Everest Challenge* requires a 10-month training schedule incorporating the following:
- 3-4 month aerobic baseline of 90-120 minute daily rides, though not without some harder efforts.
- Incorporate four double century rides to “shock” the body into a new level of endurance adaptation: Death Valley Double (now canceled but might self support), Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge.
- Extra strength and altitude adaptation in July: Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak.
- Target weight: 175 by mid-February, 170 by early June, 168 by mid August. Currently at 180 pounds, which is a 2.5 year high point. Coming down though.
* No word yet on a 2014 Everest Challenge. I am assuming it will occur, and I hope it will return to its late September date.
What has worked for me.
- Get a DEXA scan if you can, as a baseline. It tells you how much muscle and fat and bone you have, which helps set realistic goals and timing.
- Ride every day, or at least 6 of 7 days a week. That might mean a 1/2 or 1/3 easy ride for recovery—but get the body used to dealing with the constant riding. It also helps all the connective tissues get blood flow and regular stress to become stronger.
- Get enough sleep. I’m terrible at this due to a heavy work schedule, but I notice that it helps.
- Get a bike fit if you are unsure about your setup. In the winter, not in March or April—the body needs months to adjust if significant changes are made, and you don’t want to do that when highly fit (risk of injury).
This land is your land... this land is my land... so the song goes.
No, it‘s land for government jobs and a land for government jobs.
As per the Death Valley National Park web site:
Sporting Event—Bicycle or Running -
Recently, Death Valley National Park placed a temporary moratorium on issuing special use permits for sporting events within the park while a safety assessment is conducted on these types of events.
The outcomes of the safety assessment and recommendations are required before final sporting event applications can be processed. Based on the projected date for completion of the safety assessment (Summer 2014), applications can be submitted for events that are scheduled from October 1, 2014 and beyond. The park will begin processing those applications when the safety review is completed.
Findings from the risk assessment may require new conditions that will be required of all event coordinators to meet permit requirements and/or that some events may not be allowed in certain areas or permitted in the future if safety risks cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level. For additional information, please see the attached letter.
Note the naked presumptions baked into the statement: “if safety risks cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level”. In short, it is not a proposal for study, it is a statement that there are safety risks that must be addressed. Yet there is no historical evidence of any safety risks over decades. But creating and retaining jobs for park fiefdom employees means they need something to do. This is the way it’s done here and everywhere: invent a public safety issue to expand powers and budgets. A disease of our times.
AdventureCORPS and Chris Kostman have hosted 89 events since 1990 under DVNP special event permits without ever being refused a permit by DVNP, the Department of Transportation, or Inyo County. There have been no deaths, no car crashes, no citations issued, and only a few evacuations by ambulance after literally millions of miles covered on foot or by bike by event participants.
The only issue is if there is some undue high risk situation. It is absurd to conflate unusual risks with ordinary everyday to-be-expected probabilities.
Shutting off events for a year is just a fine way of going about it according to the way these government thugs think. Why can’t we fire them for a year while a study is made of whether they are needed at all?
By the way, the “pre approved and permitted” thing quoted after the First Amendment makes a mockery of the concept.
My own experience with the National Park Service has been unpleasant: NPS tells bald-faced lies to the public, which I say from direct firsthand experience. Add in rangers dressed in SEAL-team war gear, and the scariest aspect of public lands are the thugs there wearing the badges. Nor can they be bothered to take action for blatant damage, even when pictures with license plates are provided. In fairness there are also some old-timer “good guys”, but it’s the leadership which crams policy down into the ranks.
Years ago, I was a staunch supporter of seeing new new Wilderness or National Park designations. Now I am vehemently opposed to any new designations—they become fiefdoms where the goal is to restrict, deny, harrass and generally make it unpleasant to visit. It is why as much as I love the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains, I would rather see some degradation than see it “improved” and “protected” by NPS or Wilderness authorities.
Any of the Lupine cycling lights or flashlights are terrific. I use mine every day, summer or winter, day or night. Because I want to raise the odds in my favor.
Add the DiNotte 300R LED Tail-Light and you are set.
Especially in winter, what cyclist wouldn’t like a great cup of pre-ride goodness?
I use Rancilio Rocky Doserless Coffee Grinder, which grinds the beans to a consistency that makes a very smooth and very rich brew (I brew one cup at a time). I tend to use a grind much more to the fine-ness of an Espresso grind (setting “10” on the Rancilio); there is no trace of bitterness due to the exceptional quality of the Kona Cloud coffee beans. Which in fact is the only reason I drink coffee now; I was never impressed with regular coffee, finding it rather weak or bitter or both. The matter is now settled.
Get a bike fit NOW so that winter training (lighter and easer) gives you time to adjust to the new fit.