Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Backing Off

I didn't exercise for most of last week. My back was still bothering me, so I decided to back off and see if I could get it cleared up. The good news is that it now feels about 95% OK; I just have a few sensations at times. I did end up riding (easy) a couple times, and I played hockey Sunday night. So, I didn't totally just sit around.

I also continued to practice my bike handling skills. I feel like I made a little breakthrough with my manuals this week. I'm still not getting back far enough to hold the front wheel up, but I'm definitely getting close. I am getting back far enough that when the front wheel comes down, it lands pretty softly.

I want to get my manuals really dialed in, and then move on to a proper bunnyhop / J-hop. The video linked to here is, by far, the best J-hop video I've seen. I think, maybe because the jump is so big, the different parts of the technique are exaggerated and pretty easy to pick out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Riding a Little

I was able to ride a little bit over the weekend. On Friday evening, I came home and took Cora out for a ride in the trailer. I didn't really expect to ride long, since the last few times we haven't even made it out of the driveway. We ended up riding for 20-30 minutes, until it started getting dark out! I kept asking Cora if she wanted to go home (since it was cold and windy for me!), and she kept saying no. When I finally told her that we had to go home, she started crying, then she didn't want to get out of the trailer, and then she didn't want to take her helmet off. Of course, when I asked if she had fun, she kept saying, "No, I didn't have fun."

It ended up being a tougher ride for me than I expected. When it's windy, pulling the trailer is tough. I also didn't have enough air in my tires. I realized it almost immediately, but once I started riding, I didn't want to go back home and fill the tires up, since that might have been the end for Cora.

I've been doing some hip-strengthening exercises over the past couple weeks. I was hoping that these exercises would help with my left "knee dive" issue (and ultimately, some of my knee pain), and, based on the ride Friday, they have. We'll see if it continues once I start riding a little harder.

Since I'm writing about the kids, the news with Nathan is that he started saying, "da-da-dad" this weekend. That's cool...

I rode on the trainer for a while on Saturday. The knee felt quite good on the bike, and my legs felt better the longer I rode. My knee was a little achey on Sunday though. The good news is that it felt more like my ache from this Spring rather than my more recent bruise, so I'm hoping that if I re-build sensibly now, I should be OK. I've been doing some jump-roping lately too, and I'm going to try to cut that out and see if it helps. Anyway, it seems like I'm making progress.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skill Drills

For the last 4 weeks or so, I've really made working on my bike-handling drills a priority. It seemed to have paid off last night, I really felt like I had some breakthroughs.

The first drill that I usually do is the trackstand. I've become progressively more comfortable leaning the bike (and myself) over to maintain my balance. Basically increasing my range of motion on the bike. Usually when I trackstand, I end up rolling forward just a little to maintain my balance. But last night, I was able to hold my balance for quite a while without rolling... really a proper trackstand!

I had a good realization while doing my cornering drills too. I've noticed that I corner better going right than I do going left. I realized that, when turning left, I have a tendency to add steering input with my right hand (since it's my dominant hand I guess); I don't do this when turning right. I've been practicing my cornering drills with my inside hand open for quite a while, so, without thinking too much about, I started working on my corners with both hands open (so I could only push, not pull on the bars). So, there I was, zipping around the driveway, barely hanging on to my bike! Once I realized what I was doing I had to stop and laugh a little. Gene did this when I took his camp last Fall, but I never really thought I would try it. (Disclaimer: Obviously, on a trail, you want to hang on to your handlebars!)

The last drill that went really well was my switchback practice. I haven't practiced making a real turn in a while, I've just been practicing riding around slowly in really tight circles (until I get dizzy). Since I was bored with that, I decided to make mock switchbacks out of squares of pavement on my driveway. I turned left first, no problem, and I felt surprisingly comfortable! I did it again, and went faster! Turning right was not quite as good, but still much better than the last time I'd done it.

It is interesting that when turning fast, I'm more comfortable going right, and turning slow, I'm more comfortable going left. Anyway...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Banged up

I feel like I've got nearly constant aches and pains these days... hopefully it's not a sign of getting older.

I rode my bike on the trainer again this week. A little longer than before, but still a relatively short ride. I didn't have any knee problems while riding, but my legs got a little tired; I could tell I haven't been riding much. The next day though, the knee felt a little achey in the morning. So, I won't increase the duration for the next time I ride and I'll see how that goes.

I played hockey last night and either fell on my butt or smacked it into the boards, so my tailbone is quite sore today. That's never a pleasant injury. Otherwise, I didn't feel like I had a great skate. My skating and puck-handling are not where I'd like them to be, but, I'm only playing once every other week, so I guess I shouldn't expect too much.

My back's been sore on and off over the past few weeks too. I think I tweaked it playing hockey, then aggravated it raking leaves, then aggravated it some more with some of the core exercises I was doing. It's basically OK again right now, but the plan is not to aggravate it any more and get it feeling 100%.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Test Ride

I did a really easy, really short test ride on the trainer last night. I had no knee pain during the ride, and everything still feels good today. So, test #1 passed! Now, I'll try to slowly ramp my riding up. Part of me keeps thinking that I could get to the point where I could race at Springfield Oaks in December, but the more logical part of me thinks that it would be a mistake to try. I wouldn't be competitive, but it would be good to get out there. We'll see how things go...

While I've been waiting for my knee to heal up, I've been working on my upper body and core strength. It's been fun to see the strength improvements in such a short time. I think, in terms of general fitness, you could definitely get reasonably strong and reasonably fit with only brief strength and (intense) conditioning workouts. My workouts have been taking about 45 minutes, but easily half of that is stretching, foam rolling, etc.

Last night I tried towel pullups for the first time. They weren't as hard as I expected; lowering myself back down was definitely a bigger grip challenge than pulling up. Momentum working against you I guess. My thumbs are a little sore today...

Friday, November 05, 2010


I've run across a couple interesting blog posts. First one is a James Wilson interview with skills coach, Lee McCormack. It's pretty long (about 50 minutes), but there's a lot of interesting stuff. One of the points they talked about was riding with "intention". That is, when you're cornering, really set your edge and corner, when you're climbing, really set yourself up right and get over that hill! Good stuff.

Second thing was a video via Gene's blog. There's some textbook riding on there, particularly one of the last shots of the rider taking a sweeping grassy corner.

My knee has been feeling extremely good lately. It's gotten me thinking I should try to start riding again. It would be really nice to try to get in a few more mountain bike rides this year before the Winter weather really hits.Maybe next week I'll start back in with some easy spins and see how it goes. My experience seems typical of people with bone bruises on the knee: I'll be feeling great, then go down the stairs too fast or something, then ouch!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Figure 8 Wisdom

I'm making some progress. The knee is definitely getting better. It hasn't bothered me doing my skill drills in the driveway, so that's an improvement over last week. I played hockey last night and everything felt OK (and really good today).

I was a little surprised that hockey went as well as it did. The skills were still rusty, but better than last time. What I was surprised about was how good my fitness seemed. I've only been doing some short minute drill stuff for the past couple weeks, not directly working my legs at all, and things were still good. I also took a 1.5 hour nap that afternoon... which probably helped.

One thing I noticed in my driveway sessions this week... I seem to let my bike stand up too much near the end of a corner (usually as I take my first pedal stroke). That tends to be a moment when things can feel a little off for me. If I remember to keep myself balanced over the bike (over the bottom bracket), even if I'm pedaling, that spot gets a lot smoother.