Monday, January 31, 2011

Output Input Ratio

There have been a couple of good posts recently on Joe Friel's blog. One about confidence speaks for itself. There's another about charting your base training progress by checking the ratio of outputs to inputs.

This output/input seems like a pretty simple and logical method to track progress, and, particularly on the trainer, doesn't require much in the way of equipment. I've plotted my ratios over 4 rides, none particularly long, just 1 to 1.5 hours. It will be interesting to see how this chart looks as I continue to build up.

Today I'm a bit sore from skiing on Saturday. Definitely found a few muscles that must not get used in my normal activities!

We're supposed to get dumped on this week; maybe 10 inches of snow tomorrow night. If that's the case, I'll try to find a way to get some more skiing in this week...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Highland Skiing

I went over to Highland State Park this morning and out on my first cross-country ski of the year. We'd gotten a couple of inches of snow overnight, so I was sure that there would be enough.

I hadn't skied at Highland before, but since I haven't seen much written about it, I figured that there wouldn't be many people. I almost expected to be there by myself. Wrong! There were about 10 cars at the trailhead when I got there.

A guy parked next to me and introduced himself; he was also a mountain biker, and he knew this trail well. So, he showed me through the intermediate loop before he went on ahead. It was nice to follow him for awhile; I learned some things about XC ski technique just watching him. He was much faster than me.

Anyway, I had a nice time skiing. The trails at Highland are a little tighter than Independence Oaks, and not groomed. Enough skiers had gone through that there were a clear set of tracks to follow though.

It was just a few degrees below freezing, so, by about the halfway point, my skis really felt slow and was wishing I had about one less layer on. Good information for next time I guess.

Making Progress

My back has been feeling really good since early in the week. Actually, it's better now than it has been in a long time. Nearly perfect, but not quite...

I've been focusing on strength workouts so far this year; I'm also riding some, but that really hasn't ramped up yet. I feel like I'm making good progress; I'm definitely getting stronger. We'll see if it helps me ride my bike faster... The last year I stuck with strength workouts for the whole year (2007), I had a very good year. So we'll see...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I played hockey Sunday night. It was a good skate, but it really caught up with my back. My back had been feeling pretty good; still not perfect, but I felt like I was nearly there. Hockey seemed to really tighten up the muscles in my back, and I've been a little sore Monday and so far today.

I've been following the recommendations in Esther Gokhale's book, and they've worked really well in helping my back out. I'm just not quite there yet...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Normal Weekend

I'm looking forward to having a relatively normal weekend. I don't have any big plans, so it will be nice just to hang out at home.

I got over my jet lag by about Thursday this week. It wasn't too bad, I was waking up at night, but not for very long. Mainly, I just got really tired in the afternoons.

I skipped my workout on Monday since I was so tired, but I stayed on track after that. I felt terrible on my bike Tuesday night, but I rode anyway. Wednesday and Thursday were strength workouts, and those both felt really good. My legs are feeling a little worked over right now, but otherwise, I'm feeling good to be back into a little bit of a routine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

China Trip

"The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient."

So, my trip to China was kind of rough. We missed our connection in Beijing, and the next flight we could get on was at 8pm the next day! So, we tried to catch the late train to Changchun, but we missed that by about 10 minutes. We ended up staying in a hotel in Beijing, then we caught the early train to Changchun the next morning.

(Beijing airport. Apparently it was finished for the Olympics, so everything was nice and new.)

The train was nice, but it was a really long trip... about 6 hours, and this was a high-speed train!

(Various sights from the train ride. In this last picture, you can see the tall, relatively new, apartment buildings that seem to be everywhere in China.)

I had a runny nose and sore throat almost the whole trip. I'm not sure if it was from the little cold I had the week before or from the air pollution. My guess is the pollution, but I don't know for sure. Some days seemed OK, but I really noticed it on other days.

(Huge shopping mall in Changchun. There was a large section of the mall devoted to stores that only sold doors...)

(Weaving loom picture for Mom...)

(Changchun from my hotel room window. Yes, the window was a little dirty, but there is also some pretty significant smog in the air.)

You definitely noticed the cold too... the worst during the day was -18F, but it got colder at night (-28F)! I was worried that the buildings would all be cold, but, if anything, they were too hot! Still, I was glad that I brought all the cold-weather gear that I did.

(Below-ground Chinese market in Changchun.)

(Mom's mittens did the trick for keeping my hands warm.)

(This guy's rickshaw was loaded up with cardboard, which he was likely taking to a recycling center to sell.)

The trip home went much more smoothly than the trip there. My layovers were all fairly long, so there wasn't much pressure to move quickly through the airport.

(First class lounge at the Beijing airport... Nice!)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Little Discretion

I had to exercise a little discretion with my workouts this week. I couldn't tell if I was getting a cold or not earlier this week (sometimes the incense from yoga leaves me a little stuffy the next day). Finally, I decided it was a cold, so I skipped my workout on Thursday. My knee also felt just a little tweaky on Wednesday.

Anyway, I'm still not 100% cold-wise, but I'm close. I rode for a little over an hour today on the trainer and I felt fine (my cold and my knee). Hopefully I don't get sick while I'm gone.

I'm usually terrible about taking pictures on trips, but I will try to do better this time. I'm off to a bad start by not packing my camera, but I do plan to use my phone to take some pictures. I got hassled about all my electronic stuff at some airport (I don't remember where, Paris?) last year, so I'm not bringing so much this time. I will try to take some pictures though.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Jens Voigt "Facts"

Link to some dubious, but funny, "facts" about Jens Voigt.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Surprising Afternoon

My plans are nearly set for my trip to China. I have plane tickets and a hotel, so that's good. Funny, on Monday, I had nothing.

For this trip, I decided to get a set of "travel sheets" (or, in a family with young kids... a "sleep sack"). I've come back from trips (both in Asia and in the US) with some odd rashes, and I really wished that I had something like this at one of the hotels I stayed at in Paris last year. Should also help keep me warm...

I went to the optomotrist this afternoon. I expected to have to get new contacts and glasses. His suggestion was a little surprising. He thought my prescription hadn't changed that much and that I would get better correction soft lenses. So, he sent me home with a couple pairs to try out. I really didn't expect to go home with new (and so different) lenses. I did have a terrible time trying to put them in and take them out, but I guess I'll get used to the different techniques if I keep using them.

On the way home, I decided that an odd noise my car had been was now cause for concern, so I took it to the shop. It would be nice to get it back before I leave for China... we'll see.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


The 2011 Tailwind mountain bike race schedule is out, but it is not on the website yet.

4/24/11 PLRA TT

5/14+5/15/11 Brighton Stage Race

5/28/11 Bloomer Relay (non USAC)

6/12/11 Ft Custer TT

6/26/11 PLRA XC

7/2/11 Stony Marathon

8/7/11 Big M XC

8/21/11 Ruby XC

8/28/11 Stony XC

Also, there will be a Betterride camp in metro Detroit this year (unfortunately, it overlaps with the Pontiac Lake XC race). I emailed Gene about it already. It sounds like he probably won't be here, and his assistant Andy will coach instead. Either way, I'm pretty excited about it and I plan to be there. After doing the camp two years ago and working on the drills, I have a bunch of questions. I expect to get a lot out of a second time through the camp.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Here to There

There was a good post on Lee McCormack's blog the other day.

One of the sections I liked was:
He entered inside, laid into the rut, leaned, inside grip near the ground … and — oh man! — his knuckle punched a pointy stump.

Yeah, his buddy was leaned over so far, his hand hit a stump. That's pretty far from where I ride. I got thinking about that, "how do you get from here to there?" Practice, I guess. From working on Gene's Figure-8 drill, I'm definitely getting more comfortable leaning the bike, but I'm not leaning anywhere near that far. I guess you also go one step at a time...

Looks like I'm off to China next week. I'll be in Changchun, where the average temp in January is between -4 and 15F. In Waterford, the average January temperature is 22F. I'll bring warm clothes...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Back Stuff

I thought I'd post a couple of links to some of the back stuff I've been working on. In particular, I think that the stretch-lying has been very effective.

General (but long) presentation by Esther Gokhale on her methods for relieving back pain and improving posture.

Short demonstration of the stretchlying technique. I've been doing this for a few minutes before I fall asleep and once or twice during the day. It seems to have helped a bunch.