Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A quick review.

Well, I looked quickly at my YTD stats from from 2008 and thus far this year. With three days to go until the end of Feb, I will be right there for number of rides/hours/calories so far compared to last year. Here are the totals, comparing last year this time versus 2009:

21 rides
60 road miles
21 hr 35 min
16,936 kcalories

18 rides
51.7 road miles
20 hr 24 min
14,000 kcalories

So if I ride the next three days, I will have the same number of rides in, with more actual hours in the saddle for 2009. Most of my trainer rides this year have been at least 75-90 minutes, which has helped.

I got out today for a quick Wind point loop ride, it was really nice weather. Temps were around 48 degrees, light winds, sunny. I was able to get the loop done in 25:24 and averaged 18.1 mph. Legs felt good, I could've rode all night, but had to fly home and help with dinner. The weather is supposed to get bad again tomorrow, so more trainer time is in my future. I'm hoping this weekend, the weather will improve again and I can get out for at least a 2 hour ride on Sunday. I'm going to try and drag Dennis with me, and finally get him started on his training for the PUT in May. I will bring the camera with for any weekends rides I can squeeze in.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A night out.

No bike post today. Friday night, I went to a Father and Daughter Dance at Meadowbrook Country Club with my six year old. It was a very nice night, good dinner, coffee, DJ and dancing for everyone, and the kids got to have a blast. It was a very nice event and well run, at nice facility, even had some arts and crafts for the kids. The kids were just loving it! Here are a few pics of the night:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wind and the death wobble.

Well, I got out for that ride today, instead of being stuck inside on the trainer. It was a bit cold, 37 degrees but feeling about 28 deg with the wind chill. The wind, yeah, that's something you don't get on the trainer, unless you've got the fan blowing on you. There was plenty of wind to go around today, that is for sure. I rode the Giant, first time she's been on the road this year too.

The wind was blowing strong from about due west 17 mph gusting to 20+. That made for a tough ride out about 10 miles; I even had to shift down to the 39t chain ring for some of the hills. On some of the hills, I looked down at my Polar CS200 and saw I was going about 9 mph, that is sad. I made the last climb into the wind on Hwy G and did not spot my nemisis, the little dog (a tale for another day!). After making the turn to head north on 43rd St, the cross winds were bad, but not as bad as the head wind.

I crested the grade on 43rd St and started the descent towards the county line and Root River, which forms a valley in the area. I picked up some speed on the decent and hit about 27 mph, just coasting, when a cross wind almost blew me off my bike. Time to slow down a bit, little too hard to control in that wind. Past the river in the low lying areas, looking at the flooding of the Root, wow, it's bad, all the snow melt off and rain from yesterday did the area in but good. I turn right and head about due east, heading up a steep hill I call "Big Dump Hill" on 8 mile rd. Why Big Dump Hill? 'Cause it's a big hill, next to the dump in Raymond, nothing more elaborate. It's short and steep, and you've got to get out of the saddle to climb it, and you can peg your HR at 168+ easy if you jam all the way up.

A short grade up on 27th St, then east on Oakwood Rd. This is where the tail winds kick in wholesale, and I'm cruising at 22, 23, 25 mph easy. A ways up, looking at the wetlands and flooding along a flat section, I see I'm doing 27 mph and the HR is at 146. Nice. I turn south on Hwy 32, and more wicked crosswind to deal with. More traffic here too, but not that bad. Roads are pretty decent too, not too much road crap today.

So I've talked about the wind, lets talk about the death wobble. I've read about the dreaded death wobble, where your front wheel gets a crazy shimmy, making the front end go all over the place. I've never had it happen before today. I had turned east again on 6 mile rd, and I'm in the home stretch of my ride, only 3 or 4 miles to go. The tail winds are blowing, stronger than before maybe. I crank hard down a grade towards the rail trestle that passes overhead, a route I've ridden many times before. Just as I get under the overpass, I look at my speedo, I'm over 35 mph! Wow, that's fast for this stretch, never done that fast here before. All of a sudden, I hear this hideous squealing noise coming from the front end of my bike; the front wheel starts to wobble, just a little at first, then wildly. Luckily, I've got both hands on the controls, and I remember to get off the saddle and clamp my knees on the top tube. I coast for a few meters, not braking, for fear I'd go down hard. The front end is still shaking but I ease the speed down and can brake back to 17 mph, then it disappears. No more death wobble. I've read that something causes the death wobble, a certain speed, road vibration, wind, a combination of several things, I don't know for certain, but the results are a vibration in the bike that produces the wobbling front end and feeling like you're going to hit the deck. Not fun, I don't want to see it again!

All in all, a great ride, despite the death wobble and killer headwinds for 10+ miles. Here are the totals:

1hr 35m 11s
HR 142/162 avg/max
1100 kcal
26.5 miles
16.7 mph avg
37 mph max
cad 86/118 avg/max

Here is a post ride pic of me, I should title it, "How we roll in Wisconsin winter!"

Ah, it's going to be a great year of riding! And riding my TCR, well, it reminds me of what I love about that bike and just riding in general, despite the less than desirable weather.

It also reminds me that I need a new front tire on this ride, that Michelin Pro Race 2 has 3,500+ miles on it (the rear was worn flat, threads showing, so it was tossed last fall). I think I'm going to order a 6600 cassette for the new Aksiums, and will run the new black wheelset on my Giant. The old Aksiums you see on the Giant now (the silvers) will get the Conti 4 Seasons and will be relegated to the Trek. The Bonty wheels are getting sent down to 3rd string duty, or will serve as back-ups for my wife's bike.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crazy weather.

I seem to talk a lot about the extremes in Wisconsin, how bad the winters have been the past two years, strong winds most days (at least it seems like it to me, when I'm riding). The temperatures go up and down quite a bit at times, take yesterday for instance. We hit record highs of 63 degrees, bright sunny weather, with strong south winds. Of course, I worked during the day yesterday, and today I was off.

Yeah, today the temps had dropped to 39 degrees with a brisk N/NE wind and misty rain. Yeah, I went running in this today. I just did not feel like sitting on the trainer today, and to be honest, it wasn't that bad to run in (biking would have been another story; wet roads, strong winds, cold, no thanks). And one of my favorite sayings is, "I've run (or biked) in worse conditions than this!". I don't really remember what the worst day of weather I've ever biked or run in. I can probably go through my log and pull up a top three (or five) list, and kind of narrow it that way. There will be many more bad weather day rides and runs, I'm sure of that, as long as I live in WI. And I'm not moving until at least when I retire, and thats a good number of years off. So, for the time being, I just have to say another one of my favorite sayings for training in the crappy weather, I just need to HTFU!

The run: 5k in 26:09, HR 163/168, 395 kcal.

I felt good, legs were fresh, felt like I could have done a 10k, easy. I was warm enough, no issues there (I wore my Pearl Izumi Zephyr high vis yellow bike coat, it blocks the wind and rain nicely). Tomorrow will be a road ride (depending on wind and cold), or a trainer spin. I like the road ride idea much better!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

1st Ride of '09.

Well, I got out for a road ride on Friday. I did my out and back loop to I94, about 17.6 miles. This route basically goes up until I94, and then you head back down (with a few small rollers, just to burn the legs a bit!). Needless to say, this time of year in WI there is a bunch of crap on the roads. Salt, rocks, sticks, metal, chunks of unknown junk, you get the picture. Well, I was heading up the last grade nearing i94, when it seemed like the seat was getting bouncy. I was seated and turning a nice, steady cadence, not jamming on it, but just hit my pace and was feeling good! But I was thinking as I cranked, man, this new seat didn't seem that bouncy on the trainer. Hmmm, that's interesting. Wonder why I'm bouncing like that, must be tired. Well, it is the 1st road ride of the year.

Well, I wasn't that tired. And the Fizik saddle isn't that bouncy, really. I looked down and took a hard look at my rear tire, sure enough, it was about 1/2 flat. Dam. And I had just commented yesterday at the LBS that I don't get too many flats, maybe one or two a year, but I was looking for a hand pump small enough to fit in my jersey pocket for back-up air. I'm sure I jinxed myself in saying this, and no, I did not knock on wood.

So I rode the 1/2 flat down a short downhill section to I94, limped it across the Interstate overpass and stopped at a fireworks store on the west side of the intersection. Here is what it looked like:

Lady luck was shining at me, despite my poor luck in my choice of comments the previous day. I had one, yep, one CO2 cartridge with me, so I had one shot at getting the tube inflated (I carry a spare tube every ride, as well as a patch kit; I generally do not patch a tube on the road, too much risk of something not holding and getting stuck with no air way out in the boonies). And I was thinking to myself, as I pulled the tube, found the large metal staple stuck through the tire and tube, you know what happened last time you changed a flat? Yeah, I had one CO2 with that time too. But, that time (last fall sometime), the valve froze and the tube would not hold air. Either that, or I got the one out of one thousand tubes that was defective; either way, that time, I blew the CO2 and the tire was still flat. Game over, time to call the SAG wagon (aka: my wife and the van, hauling kids in two). Today, there was no SAG at home. I started doing a mental run down on who I could call at this time of day to come way out to pick me up.

This time, the tube inflates, and I still had CO2 left over! Wow, that wasn't so bad. I got back home, no other problems. I rode the loop in just over 60 minutes, which is not bad for this time of year. I didn't even have a bike computer mounted, just my Polar F6 for HR. I was OK with that, not worrying about speed or cadence, just riding and going by HR. I might do this more often with early season training on the bike!

By May 1, I'll have this loop down to 56 minutes and change on my road bike, 54 minutes on my TT bike. This route, by the way, is like my tested tride and true ride that I can judge my fitness level on. I can tell if I've had too much coffee that AM, drank too much beer the night before, or if I'm simply off my game. Some days, I feel like complete crap, and don't want to even throw a leg over my bike. But, you know what? These seemingly "bad mojo" days have turned into some of the best riding days I've had since 2006, when I started riding again after my 2nd back surgery. I've ridden this route many, many times, and will do so once again this Spring. I'll post an elevation chart and map one of these days when I get the time.

The weather was fairly nice, especially when you got 10 miles away from Lake Michigan. The temp was 31 deg, it felt like 22 deg with the WC. The winds, speaking of WC, were blowing fairly brisk out of the S/SE at 12-15 mph. So going back in towards Lake Mich was a bit tougher, and a bit slower. Thats another beautiful thing about living in WI; the dreaded winds. Some days, riding into that wind is sheer mental anguish, just pedaling along at 60-65 cad trying to stay upright. But, it adds to that ride, and it sure makes you HTFU and feel good that you did it!

So here's to the start of another road biking season! Whoop, I'm getting psyched up for this one!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Time to hit the road!

Well, I think it will be warm (and safe) enough for me to finally get out on the road, the first road ride of 2009! This marks a late start for actual road time, not just trainer time, compared to 2008. It's still pretty cold, about 21 degrees, but there is no wind and it's sunny. So, I'll wait a bit and gear up, and head on out. I'll have to check the road conditions to see how far I'll ride; there was some blowing and drifting snow out towards Interstate 94 last time I drove in from work. That would be bad, especially on 700X23s.

I got the new Contis mounted to the Aksiums yesterday, man, those tires are tight! I did not have to resort to using levers but I've got some blood blisters on my palms from twisting them to get them seated.

Here they are!

Some close up details of the tire

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New tires. And I'm going shopping again!

Well, I got my new tires from! They came even faster than the wheels did. I would have no reservations in ordering from them again, and you cannot beat their prices. Here they are:

Today, I'm heading to Racine Cyclery to buy some more tubes, then I will assemble the tires and new Aksiums later today. I want to start looking for a cassette, I want to try them out on the road. It's supposed to be in the mid 40s this weekend, so I should be able to (finally!) be able to get out and ride for an hour or so.

Other sad news I saw on earlier today:

Heynderickx first to find dead rider

By Gregor Brown in Doha, Qatar

Frederiek Nolf died in his sleep
Photo ©: / Topsport Vlaanderen

Jean-Pierre Heynderickx, directeur sportif of Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, had the unfortunate experience on Thursday of discovering one of his riders had died in his sleep. Frederiek Nolf passed away last night in Doha, Qatar, of an apparent heart attack.

Heynderickx recalled the moment he found his rider in his bed, unresponsive.

"I was the one to wake up the riders. The first room I passed was [teammate Kristof] Goddaert and Nolf's, at 9:00. I rang it and Goddaert opened the door. I passed the other rooms and returned back to their room," said Heynderickx.

Heynderickx found that the two were still in bed. He told them to get up and prepare for the fifth stage of the Tour of Qatar, February 1 to 6.

"There was no reaction from Nolf. I went to shake his leg and there was no reaction. I turned on the lights and then I saw that it was not good. He did not move, I felt his hand and it was cold."

Heynderickx confirmed Nolf was lying as if he was sleeping. He told Goddaert to leave the room and he went to find a doctor. The doctor confirmed Nolf was dead.

"I was the last man to see the two last night, at 10:15. We were joking around. Nolf called his parents and said, 'Tomorrow, I will race hard, I will give it a try.' There were no signs that he was ill or sick."

The riders are tested four times a year in Leuven, Belgium. Heynderickx called the doctor this morning. The doctor looked over his cardiograms and said that he could not find any abnormalities."

Nolf became professional in 2008 with Topsport Vlaanderen. As a junior he had very good results and his most successful year was 2005. Among others, he won the overall of the Route de l'Avenir that year and finished second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen for juniors.

The neutralised stage started at 14:05 local time with a minute of silence. All riders were wearing a black mourning band.

Scary! 22 years old, world class athlete, tested for cardio fitness at least four times a year. It goes to show you, tomorrow is guaranteed to no man. Enjoy every day you have in this life! (I'm approaching 13,700 days of life here soon! WOO HOO!)

Well, I'm heading to the bike shop for those tubes. I'm doing my part to keep the lousy economy chugging along. How about you?