Monday, February 27, 2006

Synchro Nationals

I spent a good part of the weekend on a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to watch my wife in the US Synchronized Skating Championships (aka "Nationals"). My wife skates on adult Team Elan, winners at Nationals for the past two years.

They had a very good team this year, but struggled. They won their first competition of the year, but Dearborn, the other top team from the area, had elected to pull out the night before. Dearborn did show up to the next two competitions, and won both of them. Dearborn's program wasn't as difficult, but they skated cleanly and deserved to win. Meanwhile, Team Elan was just going through the motions. They had problems with injuries, which didn't help, and a lot of times they just looked to be in a funk (to put it politely). After their last competition a month ago, I thought they'd do well to get 3rd at Nationals.

What a difference a month makes! I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but between that competition a month ago and last weekend, they pulled it together. Sarah said that they started having good practices and let a lot of the internal conflicts drop. They had an outstanding skate on Saturday, by far their best performance of the year. Dearborn, and the other teams, looked a little flat, and that sealed the deal. Another national championship!

Here's the happy team after the competition.

There's also a nice write up about the adult competition on the USFSA website.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Motivation Dip

Who you callin' a dip?

So, I'm coming off of my second "rest" week of the year. It's not really a week of full rest, but I scale back my riding and other exercise pretty dramatically. Both times now, the result has been that I'm pretty unmotivated by Sunday (therefore, the "motivation dip").

The first time, once I got back into my "normal" routine for a few days, I felt fine again. Hopefully that will happen this time around also. If this is a consistent trend for me, I guess I just need to keep my motivation dip from becoming a motivation hole.

February Test

I did my second LT field test on Friday morning. I didn't feel as motivated for this test beforehand, but as soon as I hopped on the trainer and started warming up, I got psyched up.

I put in another good effort. During the test, I knew I was doing better than I did the last time, since I didn't have to drop a gear to rest at all. The numbers backed it up. My average power was 8 Watts higher, which is better than I expected. My sprint at the end wasn't nearly as powerful as the one at the end of my last test either (about 100W lower), but I think this is probably a good thing. Heart rate numbers were virtually identical to the first test, just 1 bpm lower on average, and max HR was identical.

It will be interesting to see how this test goes next month. I didn't expect to see such a noticeable improvement after one month, we'll see if it continues.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympics and TiVo

Today is an off day, so I'm settling down to watch a little Olympic hockey. USA vs Sweden, yeah, I'm a day late and already know who won, but that's OK. (Interesting that Forsberg isn't starting, or looking like he's going to play). That's the beauty of TiVo, you can watch what you want, when you want... but sometimes you hear the result first. Speaking of hockey, I dug this picture out. Greg and me playing for the good ol' Winnebagos!

Other random Olympic thoughts (sorry, too lazy to make links):

- The men's 30k cross country race was cool. Watching Norwegian skier, Frode Estil, crash at the start and the rest of the pack slow their pace to give him a chance to catch up was neat. Reminded me of cycling. He did well to catch the field and still have enough left in the tank to take the silver.

- I felt bad for Lindsey Jacobellis. Again thanks to TiVo, I happened to watch the two boardercross events out of order, the women's race first and then the men's. I watched just about all of the men who were way ahead pull a little trick coming off the last jump or two. I wonder if they would have done it if the women had gone first? Just unfortunate that Jacobellis missed it, she can probably hit that grab 99 times out of 100. She's taking a lot of heat in the media, but, to me, that's part of that sport. She probably would have taken crap from other snowboarders if she'd played it safe and just cruised to the finish.

- I don't quite feel so bad for Bode Miller, but I understand. Alpine skiing is about taking risks and going ten tenths. And when you're doing that, it doesn't take much to make a mistake. It happens, and then it happens again.

- I've watched a good bit of the figure skating with my wife. They had a neat feature on Yevgeny Plushenko over the weekend, incredible focus. We haven't watched the free skate, but I gather that he crushed everyone. We also haven't watched the free dance, but I see that Ben and Tanith got silver, which is great.

- Looks like the US hockey team is getting good chances, just not finishing. Same thing happened in the game with Slovakia. This DiPietro guy is playing well in goal, I'd never heard of him before. Ugh, down 1-0 before I even finished this post.

Skill Training

The two main weaknesses I identified to start the year were: 1) my ability to develop power on flat sections of trail / road and 2) technical mountain biking skills, namely cornering and descending.

I feel like I'm doing the right things with regard to #1. I suppose I won't know for sure until racing starts or I do a group ride this spring, but I'm feeling much better about this. I've got my second LT field test scheduled for this Friday. It will be interesting to see what (if any) improvement I see.

In contrast, I've done very little to address issue #2. My attitude has been that I need to do more rides on the trails and/or do basic skill work in my driveway or backyard or wherever. The problem is that I haven't scheduled this stuff, thinking I'd just do it whenever I could. That has resulted in me not doing much of anything. Riding (responsibly) on the trails is difficult this time of year. If it's warm, it means the trails are likely wet and suseptible to damage. There are no issues with riding trails if they're frozen, but that also means it's pretty cold outside. Unfortunately, this thaw period lasts well through the spring.

So, I've decided that I should focus on basic skill work, to be done off the trail. After reading Ashwin's blog posting about his Better Ride experience, maybe this is the best thing to do anyway. I'm working on the detailed schedule for my next training block, which starts next Monday, and I'm incorporating some short skill sessions (maybe 15 minutes) in to most days. Even though I won't be spending a lot of time on skills in a given day, I think that I should see some improvements from consistently working on the basics.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good Ride

I had a very good ride last night. It came unexpectedly though. Monday was a day off. On Tuesday, I did an off-bike workout only, but I felt pretty tired and weak through the whole thing. I decided not to worry too much about one bad day and didn't give it much more thought.

Yesterday, I was fired up to ride pretty much as soon as I woke up. It was a little warmer around here, maybe that had something to do with it. I did my ride on the trainer, since it was dark by the time I got started. I felt great, like I could rip the crankarms right off the bike! I distracted myself for quite a while with mental images of destroyed drivetrain parts scattered across my basement (my images looked cooler than the real thing). It was supposed to be an LSD-type ride, and I did a pretty good job keeping myself in check. I burned through my excess energy about half an hour into the ride. After that, it was easier to maintain my pace.

Monday, February 13, 2006

C is for Cookie

I had hoped to clean my diet up a bit more this month. It's not bad, but it could be better. This isn't helping... a fresh batch of cookies from my wife.

A Little Advocacy

I received an email this morning through one of our state bicycle advocacy organizations. It was in regard to a proposal to make pedestrian and bicycle accomadations standard on new and reconstructed bridges in the Kansas City area. No, it doesn't directly affect me (or most of the people reading this blog), but these kinds of issues are important because they can set standards or precedents that may be applied elsewhere.

So, take a few minutes to check out the Missouri Bicycle Federation's advocacy page.

While you're in that frame of mind, check out (and consider joining) one of these other advocacy organizations:


IMBA - International Mountain Bicycling Association
LAB - League of American Bicyclists

In Michigan:

MMBA - Michigan Mountain Biking Association
LMB - League of Michigan Bicyclists

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fork Installed

I finished putting the new fork on my bike last night. It's been cold enough to ride the trails lately, but I just haven't done it. I'm excited to put the new fork through its paces though.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I spent almost all weekend working on some long-neglected home improvement projects. I hung some new lights in the kitchen, which also required running new wiring and adding another light switch. It actually went pretty smoothly, but it just took a long time.

My wife liked the squareness of this hole I cut. I was going for that "industrial" look.

So, why this burst of home improvement project energy? Well, I realized that I always seemed to find time for my projects, but the projects I wasn't so interested in got pushed off to the side. So, I made a list of projects that needed attention and alternated between house projects and "Keith projects". The idea being that I wouldn't move on to a Keith project until I completed a house project. So, what comes after hanging the kitchen lights? Installing my new fork on the mountain bike! There's some motivation!

Skating Crowd

Picture of me and the family watching my wife's skating competition.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Training Zones?

Well, I've now trained one session with my zones based off of my LT field test, and I already see a problem with using heart rate. Yesterday, I went to roughly the middle of Zone 2 (endurance) according to power and my heart rate just barely hit the minimum for that zone. My perceived exertion was also telling me I was in the right spot, so I didn't go any harder to force my HR up.

Afterward, I plotted all of the data I have from rides where I measured both HR and power (unfortunately, only 4 so far, including my test... I don't always wear the HRM, and no power if I ride outside). Then I plotted the training zones I was using. The training zones are based on the table shown at the Cycling Peaks website.

It looks to me like my power numbers are OK relative to the training zones, but that my HR numbers are low. I think the most likely explanation is that my HR was higher than it probably should have been for my test. If I take the training zone line and shift it down by about 10bpm, it makes the data from my other three rides look OK. Also, I discovered that if you project this new line back to zero Watts, you get 42bpm, which is just a few beats off of my resting (lying down) HR. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but this kind of relationship makes sense to me.

So, my plan is to shift my HR numbers down 10bpm and see how things go. I'll try to be more diligent about strapping on the HRM when I ride on the trainer, to take data if nothing else. We'll see if my test at the end of this month gives me a lower HR.