Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day 4 - GPP

Day 4 brought more conditioning and core work. Today we did one of Ross's GPP drills (General Physical Preparedness). It was 30s of burpees, jumping jacks, high knee running/dumbbell press and shadow boxing... nonstop for 10 minutes. I pushed all the way through it without a break; Sarah took breaks every 2 minutes. There's no shame in that though, this is a tough drill.

Tomorrow is a rest day. We're both looking forward to that.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Day 3 - Strength

Today was a pretty busy day for me. The 50 day plan calls for a strength workout with a sledgehammer swing finisher. The strength workout wasn't too bad, and the lowered pace was a nice relief after the first two days of conditioning-focused work. Still, my arms were pretty smoked afterward. I tried pushups with a resistance band wrapped over my back. I'll just say a little resistance goes a long way!

Swinging the sledgehammer (100 times) wasn't as tough as I thought it might be. By the time I was done, I had some major forearm pump , and I was feeling it in my back a little.

To keep some reasonable level of cycling proficiency over the off-season, I'm also getting on the bike once a week for a speed skills session. So, I got on the trainer today and did some spin-ups. It felt good to get on the bike, even if it was on the trainer, and just spin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Day 2 - Jump Rope

Today was an interval and core workout day. Since it was dark by the time I got ready to workout, I chose to jump rope for the bulk of my interval workout. It went OK, but I think I need to learn to go faster for it to really be effective.

Ross has a good article on jump rope training on his website (check out the video!).

Sarah ran over at the middle school track for her intervals this afternoon.

Monday, November 27, 2006

50 Days

Today I started up my "50 Day Plan", based on the plan in Ross's "Infinite Intensity" book. My plan is to actually not go the full 50 days, but to take a little break around Christmas. It's really more like a 28 day plan I guess. I'm not going to mess with trying to fit a structured exercise program in around the holidays. That week I'll just do what I can, when I can.

My wife is going to do the program with me, which should be interesting. When schedules permit, we'll do the workouts together. I expect that most days, she'll work out during the day, and I'll work out in the evening.

So, the 50 day program starts with a "Warrior Challenge". Ross has dubbed this one the "Magic 50". It's pretty straightforward, it's 5 sets of: 5 dumbbell snatches per arm, 5 dumbbell swings per arm and 10 burpees. No rest in between exercises, but up to one minute of rest between sets. After that, Ross recommends doing a Farmer's Walk (3 sets) to finish. My expectation is that this will be the easiest of the Challenges, if nothing else, it looks to be the shortest.

Sarah did the Magic 50 in 9:42, with an 8lb dumbbell and no finisher. Pretty good I think! In true warrior fashion, she thinks she'll go with a heavier weight next time.

I did the Magic 50 in 9:15, with a 20lb dumbbell. I did the finisher.

We do this one again on Dec 22nd. It will be interesting to see what the improvement is. Next time around I want to pick up the pace of my burpees a little bit, I think I could have gone faster.


Tonight was my first hockey game in about three years, and I probably hadn't played for a year or so before that! It went about like I expected. My skating skills were OK, but I had a little trouble with the pace early. As the game wore on, and slowed down, I seemed to do a bit better. My hockey skills were pretty rough, there were lots of plays where the puck was just out of reach, or I couldn't get it out of my skates, or I couldn't find it, or any number of other things.

All in all though, it was a good time, and this seems to be a pretty good group of guys (as most hockey players are). The guy that runs the game said that I fit in OK, so I can stay on the sub list. I guess I passed the test.

Since Sarah was coaching figure skating just before the game (and we were unexpectedly down to one car this weekend), she took some pictures.

Yours truly, sniffing around the net.

Heading somewhere in a hurry...

Yeah, but who would win in a bike race?

Friday, November 24, 2006


Sarah and I went down to the city of Detroit yesterday. We got there early enough to catch some of the parade. There was still quite a bit of fog, which I thought looked cool.

After the parade, we went over to the Lions game. Here's a shot of Ford Field before the game; the stands were also about this full in the 4th quarter. By the way, Ford Field is a very nice building!

Sarah and me before the game.

OK, one bike-related bit too. I rented Chain Reaction 5 from Netflix this week. It was mostly urban and dirt-jump footage, which I'm actually starting to appreciate. I finally understand why they keep showing the guys crashing in these movies. I think it's not just for the spectacle of it, but it also gives you some insight as to how they work to dial in their tricks.

There was also a little downhill footage, including some great close-ups of guys cornering. Things to note: 1. Head position - looking through the corner. 2. Bike leaned more than the rider. 3. Hips pointed through the corner (basically following the head). This is the first time I've gotten a good idea of what good hip position is all about. Lopes talks about it in his book, but, for whatever reason, I didn't get it until I saw this.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reflection on 2006

Now that the season is over, and I'm back from Japan, it's time to reflect on this past year a little bit to help get ready for next season.

In general, it was a very good year, if maybe a little long. I started training on January 2nd and went until November 12. In total, I put in 172 hrs on the bike and 108 hrs off the bike. I read somewhere once that just being consistent was a big part of getting fit. I think this probably made the biggest difference for me between this year and last year.

Season Highlights:

  • Fast ride with my dad in June. I never expected that I'd be able to ride like that with him.
  • Took over 12 minutes off my time at the Stony Creek MTB Time Trial.
  • Improved my LT power by 37 Watts (18%!!!) on my field test.
  • Became a mid (to upper-mid) pack "C" cyclocross racer, from routinely finishing near the back last year.
  • My left knee, which was achey at times in 2005, generally felt good all year. The only time it really bothered me this year was on a 4 hour hike on my trip to Colorado.

2006 Goals and Objectives:

  1. Develop solid aerobic foundation. I largely accomplished this, given my improved power numbers and some fairly long "long rides".
  2. Develop technical MTB skills. Well, I'm probably better now than I was last year at this time, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. I didn't accomplish my training objective of riding Pontiac Lake without walking. Two of the climbs cause me problems, one has some bumpy corners and the other is just very steep.
  3. Build race experience. I feel like I also accomplished this, even though I didn't do as many MTB races as I had planned.

Tentative 2007 Goals:

  1. Develop technical mountain bike skills. Same as last year, just elevated in priority. I feel that my cornering and descending skills are a definite weakness, particularly when compared to other Sport racers.
  2. Build solid base of conditioning. In 2006, I did a nice job developing my aerobic capacity. It was in the Base phases last year where I made my biggest gains in power; I'd like to try to repeat this for 2007. However, I felt like my anaerobic conditioning was never particularly good, and you need this for racing (especially MTB and CX racing). Doing more trail riding will definitely help, but I'm also going to experiment a little this off-season with some new conditioning drills to decide if I can increase my workload a little in 2007.
  3. Build race experience. Also the same as 2006. I'm still learning things in every race about pacing, tactics, etc. I need to do more MTB races in '07. I'm thinking about signing up for a series this year (NORBA or, more likely, CPS) just to have some extra incentive to do certain races. Somewhat related to this is that I also need to work on my Peak and Race phases; I didn't feel like I performed well in either Race phase this year.

Rollerblade Intervals

Today I got an email from a guy that's got a pick-up hockey game set up for Sunday. He was wondering if I wanted to play. Hmm... I haven't played hockey in about four years (!), and probably haven't skated in two!

Before I answered, I decided that I should maybe at least get out on the rollerblades and see if I could even stand up.

No problem standing, although I didn't feel as stable as I would have liked. I skated over to the stretch of road in my neighborhood that I've dubbed "the smooth loop". Note my sweet equipment.

So, since I was skating, I decided I might as well make it intervals. (I told my wife this when I got home. Her response? "Can't you ever do anything normal?" No!) The intervals went OK. I did 4 full loops at speed, each one took about 3 minutes. Then I did 8 short ones, maybe 15-20 seconds each. I was pretty whipped by the time I was done, and my lower back was a little sore, but I felt more solid on my skates.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Japan Entry

I'm posting from a hotel room in Japan tonight. It looks like I'll be able to cut my trip a bit short. We talked about everything that we needed to during the week (plus Saturday), so our customer suggested that we go home early (to work) instead of meeting again on Monday. OK by me, I'm ready to come home.

I was at our customer's test track today. Too bad I couldn't take any pictures, I saw lots of cool stuff.

A couple more bits about the Munson race. I checked the official results last night. I finished 11th out of 22. Funny that I'm not particularly happy about this result considering that last year I was the last finisher. What a difference a year makes I guess.

Andrea got a good picture of me on the run-up.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Munson Park CX - 2006

The 2006 edition of the Munson Park cyclocross race is in the books now, and so is my 2006 season. I can't say that the race went particularly well; better than last year, but still not so great. (Notice that I'm by myself in most of these pictures... that's how it was for most of the race... pretty big gaps to the front and rear.)

Looking at it in terms of my goals, I achieved about 50%:

1. Pedal downhill. OK, I actually did pedal down most of the hills, but, in hindsight, this wasn't a particularly good goal for this course. I think it's important to pedal down hills if the hill isn't too steep. There is only one hill at Munson, and it is reasonably steep; there's very little to be gained by pedaling down these hills.

2. Fast on the fast parts. I made a concious effort to do this today. In particular, there were several sections of crushed gravel, and these were the spots to put the hammer down. So, this one was OK.

3. Smooth on the mounts and dismounts. It would have been OK, except for the disasterous first lap. I decided to try to ride through the sandpit (on the practice laps, I rode it once and ran it once). I got bogged down halfway through, and my dismount was pretty ugly. I followed this up by catching my pedal on one of the course markers, slowing me down even more. Later in the lap, going into a barrier section, my left foot didn't clip out and I crashed. It wasn't a bad crash (I didn't get hurt), but it cost me some time.

Part of the other thing that I think has been going on here is that my training plan hasn't been ideal. I don't think I've had enough intensity in my Peak and Race phases. The result has been a noticeable decline in fitness. My race performances have been getting steadily worse since the Stony Creek CX race, which was at the end of a Build phase. Another lesson learned I guess.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Munson Goals

Wow, this week has been busy. I've been working like crazy to get ready for this trip to Japan and have hardly had time to think about the race this weekend. It's the last race I'm doing this year.

I'm racing at Munson Park in Monroe, which once again made the VeloNews 'Cross Examination article. The weather looks to be a bit nasty, probably in the mid-30's and windy. That's pretty much how it was last year, and I really suffered. Certainly, I expect to do better this year, but I'm still predicting a tough race.

I was out this afternoon on my last training ride for the season. It was just a relatively quick sprint session. It was colder and windier than I expected and probably a good preview of what I'll face tomorrow.

In terms of goals, I feel like I've gotten away from a few fundamentals that I think are key, and my goals for this race reflect that:

1. Pedal all the time! I have a tendency to coast on the downhills, and I shouldn't, this is "free speed".

2. Go fast in the fast parts! I think I've not been pushing quite hard enough on some of the faster, flatter parts of the courses.

3. One of my standards, but still important: Be smooth on the dismounts and mounts.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tuesday Updates

A few topics for today's update:

1. I finished my last cruise interval workout for the year. I've still got a couple more rides to do before the race, but they won't be as tough as this one.

2. It looks like I'll be heading to Japan next week. The plan is to leave next Tuesday and get back the following Tuesday. The good news is that the trip won't screw up my race in Monroe next weekend. The bad news is that I will miss the Michigan / Ohio State game. I'm hoping I can at least listen to on streaming audio from Japan. I'll try to take some pictures, but I don't expect much, if any, time for sightseeing.

3. I watched my wife's synchro team practice this weekend. Parts of the program look very good, but some parts still don't. They still have plenty of time of before their first competition to get things straigtened out. Even though she complains about the kids not paying attention and being crazy, she seemed to run a pretty tight ship. She's starting to get stressed about this first competition though.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

End of Year Test

I performed my last lactate threshold field test for the year this morning. It went pretty well. My threshold power was up 10 Watts over my last test (in May!). Since my first test at the beginning of the year, my power at LT has improved by 37 Watts (18%). Of course, part of the reason for the big improvement is because I started at a pretty low level.

It's interesting how this 30 minute test is different from my 'cross races, which are also about 30 minutes. The test is actually much easier, even though I'm theoretically riding at the limit for both. I think it has to do with the fact that there is steady resistance for the test, where in the 'cross race you're going up and down hills, off and on the bike, etc. There are also few distractions on the trainer, there's pretty much nothing to do other than pedal and watch the computer. Essentially, it all means that it's much easier to set and maintain a pace for the test.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Strange Little Bug

I had a strange little illness last night. I had been feeling basically OK at work all day; it was a very busy day though. I came home, ate a little snack (bagel and peanut butter... nothing unusual there), and shortly after that, I started feeling very dizzy and nauseous. I never did get really sick, but it took me out of commision for the night. I ended up sleeping pretty much straight from 6:00pm yesterday to 5:30am today. And today, I feel fine. Very weird. I don't know if it was something I ate or I picked up a little bug or what, but I seem to be over it now.

I told my wife a couple weeks ago that I'd probably bag the rest my season if I got sick, since there's so little left, but I don't think this counts. So, I'll be back on the bike tonight!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Backyard Wildlife

Now that the Fall weather has turned a little nicer, it looks like the local wildlife is on the move.