Sunday, July 24, 2011

Strange Week

Last week was strange. I had zero motivation to ride or train. It was supposed to be a rest week, so I guess that's OK, but it's never good to be feeling that way. Probably too much work stress. Finally, by Thursday night I felt sort of like riding. Unfortunately, it was also 100F+ outside, so I ended up riding the trainer. Not really my idea of a good time...

I did the Tree Farm Relay again on Saturday. It ended up being a weird race. It was really hot and humid most of the day. One of my teammates crashed and broke his collarbone early in the day. I didn't feel so great on my first lap; probably from not riding much during the week. My second lap went better though. It was nice to hang out with the Rhinos all day too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flat Pedals

Last night, I rode real flat pedals with not-ideal shoes and shinguards for the first time. It was a really interesting experience.

First, I'm not as comfortable getting out of my clipless pedals as I thought. There were several technical sections that I rode faster because I knew I could instantly put a foot down. Even if you can get your foot out of a clipless pedal fast, it's still not as fast as with a flat pedal.

Second, I now really understand what it means to drive your weight into the pedals. When my feet would get a little light, I could feel them start to slip just a little, when they were heavy, no slipping. I'll be curious to see how this changes with better shoes. I think this will also change the way I ride clipped in, in a good way. With more weight on my feet, the bike seemed to handle much better.

The worst situation for me as far as my feet not staying on the pedals was when I was sitting and pedaling. I guess it's obvious, but any weight that's on the saddle is not on your feet, so they're more likely to slip.

Third, it will take some practice to get used to doing things on flats that I'd do without much thought clipped in. The main one I noticed was going off drops. I think my drop technique is pretty decent, but last night, as I approached the drop I'm thinking, "where will my bike go when the rear wheel takes off?". My physics-brain knows that my bike and my body will fall at the same rate, so it should be no problem. My survival-brain isn't so sure. I still went off the drop and was fine, but it wasn't as smooth as usual. After the ride, in the parking lot, I demonstrated to myself that I could, in fact, lift my rear wheel with the flat pedals.

Anyway, I had a really good time riding like that. I had some good moments where I was really flying, but also a few awkward ones. To be expected I guess. I doubt I will switch over to flat pedals full time, but I think I will try to ride with them quite a bit for a while. I can see how they will help me develop some better technique.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If It Rains...

Had an interesting week last week. I felt pretty crummy on Wednesday and didn't expect much from my ride. As it turned out, I rode the trainer and had a really good workout. It took me a little while to get warmed up, but once I got going I felt good.

On Thursday, I was looking forward to my ride at Pontiac Lake the whole day. But once I got there, I never got feeling all that good. It just seemed like I was a little out of sync the whole time. Maybe some of it still has to do with integrating the changes I made from the Betterride camp .

Over the weekend, we drove up to Ludington for my cousin's wedding. I put road tires on my 'cross bike and rode that on Sunday. I'd sort of forgotten how many dirt roads are out there. I hit a few bad ones early in my ride. The problem with the dirt roads up there is that they can have sections of deep sand... road tires at 80psi just sink in.

Anyway, once I got back on the paved roads, I had a really nice ride. I found some good hills and good scenery. Lots of open farmland out there. I only hit one more bad sandy road... I almost pushed through it, but not quite. It felt like good cyclocross practice anyway.

On the way home from Ludington, Cora was pretty tired and just chatting / singing to herself. One of the phrases that popped up: "if it rains, take the bus." The kids are always listening...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Line

I ended up getting in a fairly productive week of training last week. At least, I learned some things...

I tried to do some short intervals at PLRA on Thursday night. I've done longer ones there before and I've thought it worked OK. I found that short ones don't though. I just can't go hard enough on the trail to get the right training effect. So, I think I'll either save longer intervals for the trail, or just do shorter hard efforts as the trail dictates (ie- hammer up all the climbs, or flats, or whatever).

I went over to Lakeshore Park in Novi to ride and "practice" on Saturday. It was pretty hot, and it took me quite a while before I felt like doing anything but just riding. Eventually, I stopped and worked on some corners. I realized that in linked corners, where I should be compromising the first corner to take a good line through the second one, I don't. I take a normal line through the first one, then a crappy line through the second. I stopped at a few corners and worked on doing it the right way. It's amazing, without really even pedaling hard, how much more speed you carry by following the correct line. I also stopped and spent some time on the pump track. The surface isn't so great there, too gravely, but you can still get zipping around with good technique.

I started re-reading Skip Barber's Going Faster for its good discussion of the line when I got home...

I expected my dirt road ride on Sunday to go kind of badly. My legs never got feeling good on Saturday, so I didn't expect much for Sunday. I did get out pretty early in the morning before it got too hot, which helped. I ended up actually feeling really good. After I got warmed up, I did my usual harder efforts, and those felt good. Then I finished up at an easier pace to make the ride 2.5 hours. I definitely could have done more (and I will, this week).