Tuesday, October 30, 2007


"I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said."
- Alan Greenspan

Not a typical Chainline quote, but it struck me as funny.

I got through all of my tests except CP30 last week (no retests yet though). I'm not sure if I'll be able to, or if I want to take the time, to do my CP30 and my retests this week. Maybe I'll do those in two weeks, on the free weekend between the Ann Arbor and Monroe races. So, I'm going to go ahead and post my charts now.

Here's the Critical Power chart. It shows some nice across-the-board improvements, but I guess I always want a little more.

Here's my updated "Power Profiling" chart. I'm not using quite the same time intervals as are recommended for this chart. I use 12s power instead of 5s power, and 6min power instead of 5min power. It just means those numbers will look a little low for me (I'm really not sure how much difference there would be between 5s and 12s anyway). The hollow squares are my February numbers. My February 5s number was so low that it didn't register on the chart. There were big improvements on the "5s" and 1min numbers, and solid improvements on the "5min" and FT numbers.

Just keep in mind, for both charts, that my mid-range (1-12min) interval power numbers weren't so good in February because I was just coming off the Preparation phase and had pretty crappy anaerobic fitness. Also keep in mind that I'm measuring power of my "calibrated" trainer, so my absolute power numbers may not be accurate. For example, I don't really believe that I have Cat2/3 5min and FT power.

I want to keep working on developing my Force (strength) in the off-season. I think that it's just the raw strength to turn over big gears is what's holding me back on those short intervals.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jack Lalanne

"Life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest."
- Jack Lalanne

I was looking through Ross's blog, where he had a video clip posted from Jack Lalanne's old show. It got me looking around for other clips. Here are some of my favorites:

How to Lift 1000 Pounds

Life is a Battlefield

The Early Death


How to be a Champion

Friday, October 26, 2007

End of Season Testing

No racing for me this weekend, so I'm using the opportunity to complete my end-of-season testing. I'm doing the full battery of Critical Power tests that I did in the Spring. It was through doing these tests that I identified some weaknesses I hadn't previously been aware of.

Last night, I did the CP12 test. I thought it went OK, I put out an average of 259W, but I still had a little left in the tank. The result looks good when you compare it to my last CP12 test from February, when I put out 233W. This morning, I compared my new CP12 result to my last CP30 test in May, where I did 254W. Since I'm also hoping for an improvement in my CP30 test this month, my CP12 result isn't looking so good anymore. So, I think I'll probably wait until I've finished my other tests and then repeat CP12.

Tonight I did my CP0.2 and CP1 tests. The CP0.2 test went fine, I maintained about 700W (maybe 725W); the averaging function on my computer doesn't work well over 12 seconds, so I have to eyeball it. This is a nice improvement over the 600W I did in March.

The CP1 test didn't go so well. I was feeling cocky and tried to hold 500W, but it was definitely too much, and I crapped out at about 45s. I rested a bit and tried again for 475W, but I forgot to start my computer, and I realized it at about 20s, so I expended quite a bit of energy in that attempt. I tried a 3rd time and held 441W for the minute. So, I got a number "in the books", but I can do better. I think 475W is probably doable for me, so I'll try this test again in a few days.

I'll post my critical power chart and "power profiling" chart when I'm finished. They're kind of interesting to look at.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lower Huron Pictures

Pictures by Steve Balogh. It was interesting to look through Steve's other pictures of the C-race; a lot of people were crashing at the sand pit.

Brian, before his derailleur exploded... I was looking for a picture of him running, but no one seems to have gotten that.

Photos by Andrea Tucker... very good, as always.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Local Cycling Video

Video shot about ~15 years ago featuring riders from my local shop. Watch the whole thing, the last few minutes are the best.

Riders Ready

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lower Huron CX - 07

Sunday was the Lower Huron cyclocross race. I didn't expect much going in; as I posted on Thursday, I was pretty tired by the end of the week. I did decide to skip my ride Thursday night, but I did a hard trainer ride Friday and a semi-laid back mountain bike ride Saturday. I had a pretty bad race at Lower Huron last year too. It was cold and rainy, I made a lot of little mistakes and my fitness wasn't very good. So, like I said, I wasn't expecting much.

One of the things that happened last year was that I got snowed under at the start. The begining of the course was basically the same this year, there was a long paved straight (into a strong headwind) ending in a sharp left-hander. At the whistle, I went hard, but nothing too crazy. We quickly formed into a line I think, I don't know because I ended up second in line! I was OK with that, I figured I'd just sit there and let this guy pull me to the grass. About 3/4 of the way down the straight, another guy pulled alongside the first and they rode next to each other. No problem for me, now I had two guys blocking the wind for me. Unfortunately, that was the last time I got any help in the wind.

Things were pretty close on the first lap, the first two guys had pulled away a little, but there were a few of us trading spots behind them. When the course doubled back on itself, I could also see that a chasing group was close.

For the second lap, I was right with a Cycle to Fitness guy. I had passed him going onto the pavement, and he wasn't interested in helping me out in the wind, so I pulled him all the way down. He passed me back running through the sandpit. This basically was how the race went until near the end. He and I were swapping spots back and forth. Usually I could work by him on the open flat parts of the course, and then he'd run hard and make it up.

On the third lap, the CtF guy had opened a little gap by the time we got to the pavement, but I pushed and closed it before we hit the grass. I had planned to back off the pace just a touch on the third lap, but I didn't want to back off too much. I knew that two other Rhinos were just behind me (in talking with them after the race, this is where they thought they could catch me). The CtF guy looked like he was tiring a little bit about halfway through the lap, so I attacked and tried to open a gap. He went with me though, so I didn't get my gap. This was the point, I think, where we gapped the group chasing us.

On the fourth lap, I was in front on the pavement again, I tried to use some lapped traffic and the edge of the road to keep him from getting a good draft, but I don't think it helped much. Things were still tight until a barrier section about halfway through the lap. My rear tire hit the second barrier hard and I dropped my chain. I got it fixed pretty quickly; I kept expecting the guys behind me to come by, but they didn't. The damage was done though, the CtF guy was way ahead of me, and, unless he had a problem, I knew I wasn't going to catch him. I worked hard for the rest of the lap, but nothing unusual happened, and I cruised in for 5th place.

The other notable point about the race involved our new Rhino, Brian. Brian's rear derailleur exploded (for some reason unknown to us) at the start of his last lap. Instead of DNF'ing, Brian picked up his bike and ran it the rest of the way through the lap! If I had thought faster, I would have taken my bike to the pit and let him use it. At that point though, my bike was in the car, and it didn't occur to me until it was too late.

Anyway, 5th place... by far my best finish of the year, and my first podium (thankfully, the podium in 'cross is 5 places). A couple things contributed, first, some of the usual faster guys weren't there. Still, I beat English Mark, and he's been consistently beating me all year, so that wasn't the only reason. Second thing is that my high-end fitness is finally here. Basically, I was able to push for the whole race (unlike Stony, where I could only push for about 20 minutes), and I felt strong enough to make some tactical decisions, like my couple hard efforts on the third lap.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Week 3 Fatigue

“The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.”
- George Sheehan, M.D.

Well, it's about halfway through week 3 of a Build phase for me, and I'm starting to feel the accumulated fatigue. This is normal for me though; the fatigue always sets in at about this time in my Build phases. I need to be a little careful about what I do for the rest of the week now. This is one of the times when you want to overreach a little and train through the fatigue, but you also don't want to go too far and wind up sick.

On Tuesday night, we still had 'cross practice, even though it was cool and raining a bit. Only about 8 people showed up. We set up a short course and most of the people did moderate-paced laps. I put in some harder laps, since Tuesday is usually one of the days I target for more intensity. I made it a little game where I'd sit up and let a big gap open and then I'd see how long it took me to close it down.

Last night I went out to Indian Springs and rode in the park until it got dark, probably an hour and a half. It's getting dark so early now that it's hard to ride after work.

I had planned to do a hard mountain bike ride tonight. It's supposed to rain all day today though, so I may end up riding the trainer. If I'm still feeling tired tonight, I may also end up not riding at all and ride tomorrow instead. It'll all just depend on the weather and how I'm feeling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Last Push

I had the realization yesterday that this week is sort of my last "hard" week of the year. True, I'll still go hard during the upcoming Peak phase, but volume is reduced enough that it seems much easier.

It's been a little while since I last posted. Not too much new going on; I'm feeling really good right now, which is typical for me during the Build 2 phase (at least, until the end of the week, when I'll be feeling very fatigued). I had a great interval ride on the mountain bike last Friday night. I rode the trainer early Saturday morning, since I was at the Michigan game basically all day. Sunday, I did a short backyard cyclocross practice and played hockey at night.

I'm still doing the Paleo nutrition thing (I've decided I shouldn't call it a diet). I've actually been spending a lot of time cooking and preparing food over the past few days. It's kind of a pain to cook so much, but I do like eating "real" food all the time. I suspect I'll get a little more efficient as I do it more too.

Basically, my impressions of this nutrition plan haven't changed since my last post. I'm definitely eating a higher volume of food, but it's low enough in calories that I need to be careful to eat enough (this is, I guess, how people lose weight on low-carb diets). The other feeling I get now is that my head is very clear all the time; I'm not saying I was foggy before, but I can't think of a better way to describe it. I also haven't been bonking badly (or at all) in my workouts like I expected (from what I've read, this is common at first for people changing to a Paleo nutrition plan).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Paleo Kung Fu

I've been reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel. Obviously, I'm not looking to make diet changes to lose weight, but to increase performance and increase my resistance to getting sick. Essentially, the recommendation of the book is to eat only lean meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables except for certain periods of time before, during and after exercise, when you need to take in more carbohydrates for energy.

I'm not quite finished with the book, but I've been gradually implementing some of the changes. Here's what I've noticed:

1. If I do this, I will need to eat a higher volume of food. Meat and fruit and vegetables are nutritionally dense, but they tend to not be calorically dense. I worked out a sample menu the other day, and I'd need to eat about twice the volume of what I eat now to get the same amount of calories.

2. One of the features of this diet is that you're generally eating foods lower on the glycemic index. I've noticed the impact of this change already; I'm not feeling energy surges and lulls during the day as much as I did before.

3. I recovered really well from my racing and hockey on Sunday. I also slept a lot Monday and Tuesday nights (9-10 hrs each), but I've never felt so good on Tuesday night since I started hockey. I'm not sure if this is a result of the diet or being good about getting to bed.

4. I followed the book's recommendation for pre-workout eating last night before 'cross practice, which is quite a bit different than what I'd normally eat. I don't know if that was it, or if it was the sleep, or something else, but I do know that I threw down in our mini-races last night. My legs felt good and I rode really well. (At least I rode well for our first mini-race. I crashed twice on the second one, so it was harder to judge... but I was riding near the front until the second crash.) When we gathered again after the first race, people were like, "What's gotten into you?"

So, I don't know if it's the diet or what, it seems like it's too early for me to notice a difference, but points 3 and 4 are really what Friel is saying will happen. The idea is that you recover faster (and don't get sick as much!) so you can do high-quality workouts more frequently... and that's how you get faster!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stony Creek Cyclocross - 07

And this old man in front of me
Holding canes and ruby rings
Is like containing an explosion when he sings
But with every chance to set himself on fire
He just ends up doing the same thing

- White Stripes "Little Cream Soda"

Another weekend, another 'cross race. This time at Stony Creek. The weather has been wildly different every time I've done this race. In '05 we had snow, in '06 the weather was mild, and this year it was hot and humid.

The course was pretty typical for Stony, there's only so much they can do there. The defining feature was probably the long running section along the beach. First, you had to go through a sand volleyball court (which was rideable), then a short stretch of grass before you hit the beach. The beach section was long and had a couple turns, so the C-racers were running it. Once you got off the beach, there was a short uphill section leading back to the start/finish line. Definitely tough going.

I'd been questioning my effort a little bit over the past few races. Not that I was out there cruising, but I felt like I had a little too much left at the end. I've also been disappointed in the way I've been getting hung up at the start. So, this week, I went hard at the start. I wanted to get to the first relatively tight corner near the front, since I figured people might be slowing more than necessary there or crashing. I didn't get a great start initially, but I worked my way up quickly and was maybe in the top 15 by the corner. Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded and everyone made it through the corner OK.

I had planned to back off a little a little at that point, but I didn't. There were several guys in front of me that I knew I could beat (and aren't great technical riders), so I wanted to get around them early. I did get past these guys pretty quickly, but the result was a pretty intense first lap.

Things were spreading out by lap 2. Again, I thought about backing off, but I could see that English Mark wasn't too far ahead of me, so I tried to keep that gap constant. Another pretty fast lap.

At the start of lap 3, I knew I had to back off or I was going to blow up big time before the race was over. So, I backed off and let the gap in front of me open up. I had a big gap to the group behind me, so I was hoping I could more-or-less keep it until the end. By the end of the lap, I was really suffering. I stalled about halfway through the volleyball court and had to get off and run. I also slowed down a bit running on the beach.

I tried to pick it up again for the last lap (and my lap times show that I did, a little), but I was about cooked. This was the first 'cross race this year where I really felt like quitting on the last lap (I also felt like throwing up). I actually take this as a good sign; I usually have my best races when I've gone hard enough to feel like quitting on the last lap. Anyway, I didn't have much punch left in my legs, and I got caught and passed by the group behind me. I nearly picked off one of these guys going to the line, but he saw me coming and turned it up enough to keep his spot. So, another race, another 11th place.

So, there were a couple good things that came out of this race. One was that I was really happy with my effort, even though I misjudged the pacing a little bit. I had nothing left by the end of the race. The second thing was that I can now say I've stopped the hop! All of my remounts were good (in terms of hopping) except the last one, which is saying something since I was off the bike 3-4 times per lap. Now I need to work on finding the pedals quickly when I remount.

Hockey was tougher than usual Sunday night. It was humid in the rink, and I think I was feeling the effects of going harder in the race. I was involved in a big collision where one (or both) of us wasn't watching where they were going. My neck was sore from it last night.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

'Cross Goodness

Awesome pictures from Andrea Tucker from the first two race weekends.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bloomer CX - 07

“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.”
- Vince Lombardi

I enjoyed my recovery time last week. I did a pedaling technique session on the trainer Thursday night, and spent an hour working on cyclocross skills on Saturday. By the end of my session on Saturday, I had figured out how to jump on my bike without hopping, but I'm still very inconsistent. The key for me turned out to be to not worry about what my right leg was doing, and think about jumping early off my left foot. I think I was a little thrown off by people saying that "you don't just jump on your bike" in cyclocross. That's true, you don't just jump on your bike, but you do jump on your bike.

Sunday was the Bloomer Park CX race. I had my new tires on, my new Rhino kit, and my newfound ability to jump on the bike. I was really cranked up Sunday morning and feeling good about the race. I got a good warm-up in. I immediately noticed that the new tires rolled much faster than my old ones, and I didn't have any issues with grip on the wet grass. My remounts weren't very good in the warm-up though; that's the problem with learning a new skill one day and trying to immediately apply it the next.

I lined up a little late on the line. I ended up in the second row but on the outside. I didn't get a good start, in large part, because the guy in front of me stalled on his start. As a result, I was way back (maybe 20th position) for a lot of the first lap. Back that far in the pack, you run into some suspect bike handlers. Guys are wiping out on corners that shouldn't be too hard and hitting their brakes all over the place. By the end of the first lap, Sarah said I was around 16th place, but still not too far out of touch from the lead group.

There was still a lot of traffic on the second lap. I was riding near a couple Rhinos, Rob and Brian (Brian did well to stay with us through the second lap, I think this was only his 2nd 'cross race). I might have picked up a few spots, but I wasn't really pushing yet, and the pack was finally starting to thin out.

At the start of the third lap, Sarah yelled out that Rob and I were catching the leader's group. Early in the third lap, Rob was starting to fade, and I eventually went around him at the barriers (I don't think I've ever beaten Rob before... I credit the tires). I spent most of the third lap trying to reel in the next group; I had also started pushing a little harder again. I probably passed a few more people on the third lap (it's hard to remember now).

I was pushing hard on the last lap too, trying to go hard enough to make up time, but not so hard that I blew up. I finally reeled in the guys that I was chasing. I passed one guy in a little technical bit after the velodrome hill, and then I was off to the little singletrack section. Still, he had slowed me up a little, so the two South Lyon Cycle guys I was chasing had a little gap again. I had a little mishap on the singletrack, I think I rolled over a rock or stick, and the back tire slid out a bit. I got my foot out and stayed upright, but I lost momentum. Even so, I had nearly caught the South Lyon riders. On the paved section near the end, I put it into my big ring and started cranking. I didn't really attack hard until we rode through the pavilion. I was definitely going faster, but the South Lyon guys were on the edge of the road to the left, and I couldn't get by. (Nothing wrong with that on their part, they don't have to get out of the way to let me beat them.) Ultimately, I badly misjudged the finish and attacked too late. I ended up finishing 10th (as usual), but probably within a second of being 8th. English Mark ended up 7th, but I didn't check the time gap he had on my group. Basically though, I was happy with my race.

So, here's the takeaway:

  1. The Michelin Mud 2 tires are great. I wish I'd switched sooner. I'm really curious now about how much better tubulars would be. Maybe next year.

  2. My remounts still weren't very good. I need to keep working on them until it becomes automatic. Time picked up there could have been the difference between 10th and 8th.

  3. I was really happy with my cornering. I felt like I was picking up time on the more tehcnical parts of the course. I credit the Tuesday night practice for this.

  4. Fitness is getting better (I'm sure the rest week helped!).


"I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. #%*&. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail."
- Office Space

One of my original ideas for this blog was that it would be more technical, in terms of my engineering background as it applies to bike-related things. While I think that you can certainly see my over-the-top methodical and analytical approach to training and evaluating my performances, it's not been too technical. C'est la vie.

So, here's an article about how Felt Racing used CFD software to build their new time trial bike. If the picture is accurate, I really question modeling the cyclist/bike with bare feet, no pedals, and no rear derailleur.

Here's a second article that's totally not bike-related about how today's engineering students leave school unprepared to do real engineering work. I see this frequently in my job, where engineers roughly my age and younger tend to be sloppy in their work and don't have a good physical understanding of how things work and go together. Certainly, there are exceptions (I consider myself one), but we're definitely the exceptions rather than the norm. One of my complaints, even while I was in school, was all of the "partial credit" we got on problem sets and tests (where you'd get most of the points for doing the correct process, even if you got the wrong answer). For sure, doing the correct process is important, but, in the end, in the real world, getting the correct answer is what really matters.