Archive | February, 2013

The Hannibal

24 Feb


Frigid temps kept many Indy folks inside on trainers again yesterday. Fortunately, Larry was game for riding outside in the 24 degree temperature. Long known for his fortitude and mental toughness, Larry prepared for the ride by PUTTING ICE IN HIS WATER BOTTLES! Sans ice, my bottles were cold soon enough. The best part of yesterday’s ride however, was the post ride meal; red beans and rice with sausage, gumbo, and Belgian Ale. Thank you Larry!

A good sized contingent came out today in the balmy 33 degrees. Larry, Dr. Wilkes, Tim Harden, Preston, Frank, Phelgar, David Kaplan, and several others joined for a social ride with short bursts of tempo.

I’ve been writing about Phelgar’s noticeable improvement from week to week in cycling class. As we prepared to move out for the ride today, Phelgar said, “Since this is going to be a social ride, I’m going Hannibal on you all.” He pulled out a face mask with breathing holes over the mouth that resembled something like the photo at the top of this post.

A few riders were unceremoniously shelled off the front, but otherwise, the group mostly stayed together until the final sprint up Lafayette Road as we neared 86th Street. And the winner was The Hannibal – sans the mask at this point in the ride. Congrats to Phelgar – the indoor training is paying dividends.

Looks like Mother Nature has no plans to let up on us as the long range forecast calls for snow flurries this coming Friday and Saturday with low temps in the teens and hi of 32 degrees. I guess I’ll see you all on the trainer again next weekend.

PhD’s in the Mud

17 Feb
Larry licking wounds from his bike and himself

Larry licking wounds from his bike and himself

Mud2-17 ftbenmud2 

When I last posted a training column I encouraged all of you to keep those trainers handy. What I meant to say was…., keep them handy for evening training during the week. Darkness comes on too quickly for those getting off work at 5 pm or later, so you’ll still need that trainer. But on the weekends, get outside!

Yes, it was cold this weekend. Nonetheless, Brian, Larry and David joined me for a moderate ride on the trails at Ft. Ben on Saturday. Dr. Wilkes is to be commended for his willingness to get outside his comfort zone – that being the warm confines of his home training studio and those unrelenting Sufferfest videos.

Known for his aversion to cold weather riding, Dr. Wilkes shattered that image and then some yesterday, taking on the 25 degree temperature with aplomb, not to mention the technical, off-camber with steep drop offs, and sometimes slick trails – ON HIS FIRST EVER TRAIL RIDE!

Our ride was not without Newbie humor, however, as Dr. Wilkes was overheard on more than one occasion to shout, ‘OMG, what are you guys trying to do to me?! I want my rollers!!’ And Dr. Wilkes wasn’t the only one in the group to fall. In fact, only Brian remained upright the entire ride.

Practicing their synchronized cycling routine, Drs. Stevens and Wilkes upended at the exact same moment in one spot on the trail, legs up in the air turning invisible pedals. And yours truly escaped major embarrassment by slamming into the side of the cliff after a rapid descent that abruptly turned onto a narrow precipice with a steep drop off. Rather than dive into the ravine, I dove into the side, collecing a healthy dose of mud and dirt onto my leggings and ego.

After the trails were conquored, Dr. Wilkes acknowledged the temperature wasn’t so bad and it sure beats riding the trainer for 90 minutes. When all was said and done, we were out for nearly an hour and 45 minutes with some quality work being put in on the ascents. I’ve included photos: Larry licking the wounds from himself and his bike; and the group of us in podium pose.

Today was actually colder than yesterday so I could not get any takers for a road ride. Brian was willing to ride the trails again, so off we went for a 2-hour trail ride. (Ok, I admit, I rode my trainer for an hour this morning before going over to Brian’s. Yes, yes, keep that damn trainer handy for weekends, too.)You’d think with colder temps the ground would be more solid, but that was not the case today. The sun shone brightly through the leafless trees, hitting the trail just right in some spots such that frost and snow melted into the ground, turning it to a bit of a mud bog. We had to abort our ride early due to mud clogging up in my brakes and between the wheel and frame. See middle photo.

Several other riders pulled out of the woods about the same time we did, suffering similar fates with locked up wheels. Even so, it was fun being in the woods again, allowing nature to provide the workout, absorbing the sun, and not feeling one bit cold despite the frigid temp.

Race season ramps up in a week or two, with Hillsboro Roubaix being only 5 short weeks away, so don’t let the temps keep you inside on weekends any longer. If you’ve got an off road bike, use it. Your bike handling will benefit, your upper body strength will improve, and your lungs will adapt to the colder temps we often face in March racing.

Racing blogs will begin soon.

The Lance Discussion

13 Feb

Those of you who’ve known me through the years know that I have been a staunch anti-Lance spokesperson. When everyone was cheering him, I was pointing out his sinister side. Throughout this time period of Floyd, Tyler, the USADA Reasoned Decision, and finally, the Oprah Confession, I’ve remained quiet among you. Today I received a link to an article that sums up the whole saga in a concise manner. For those of you interested, this is what I’d like to have said were I to have taken the time to put it together:

Break From The Trainer

10 Feb

It seems there are folks looking for info here; I’ve had several views of the blog each day this past week. For you folks, here’s some info:

Unlike last winter, this season has not been kind to outdoor enthusiasts. Although our winter here in Indianapolis has not been unbearable, the worst weather tends to fall on weekends, preventing outdoor training. As such, much time has been spent on trainers among zip code riders and racers.

Participants in the Brooks Integrative Training program have taken advantage of the two nights a week and Sunday class offerings to hone their pedaling efficiency and keep winter weight gain at bay. Among those who’ve shined over the past month are Mark Dewart and Ken Green. These guys have ridden with me for years, but for a variety of reasons have never been able to participate in my classes. This season both gentlemen are pushing watts and turning rpms like never before. Mark shared with me that he can now hold a power for an hour that he could only hold for 5 minutes back in October.

On the ladies’ side, Julie Renshaw continues to inspire with steady improvement. Michele Sheets has lifted her max cadence from 105 to over 160 rpm in the brief time she’s attended classes this year.

I should also point out new comer, Phelgar Washington. Phelgar naturally spins a light gear in a smooth motion. This comes as no surprise given that he ran a 49-second quarter mile in high school. Talk about a natural athlete. Adding big gear work to Phelgar’s fluid spin will make him even more dangerous on those end of ride sprints this season.

But enough trainer talk. Today was sunny; a little cold, but sunny enough to entice a group out for the Saturday morning coffee shop ride from Zionsville. I started that ride in the fall of 2008 because it was a convenient place for most northwest siders to meet. The ride has grown in stature and volume through the years such that on nice Saturdays there could be over 50 people at the ride, splitting into comparable ability groups as necessary.

Today’s group consisted of about 20 robust riders, including Bri and Harry. As I caught up with them, Harry said he’d recently set an all time record, riding 14 days in a row on his trainer. If Harry rides his trainer for two weeks straight, you know the weather has been bad. This is a man who when he lived in Louisville and rode for Roadhouse, would go out at 9 am when the temperature was below 20 degrees and set off on 80-mile suffer fests. All because he wanted to avoid the trainer.

Dennis, Rob, and other friendly faces kept the pace honest, even after the sprints up the mini-cols north of Eagle Creek Park. I was pleased to see Todd Winget, another B.I.T. participant, riding so strong today. And I was even more pleased to overhear other riders discussing how strong Todd looked.

Like so many others, I’ve been bound to the trainer most of the winter. The biggest benefit of the trainer has been abating weight gain. I’m still right where I left off last season at 162 lbs.

Two weeks ago I was joined by several B.I.T. members at the Spin4Heroes cancer fundraiser. This was a four hour relay in which teams compete for overall mileage champion and overall fund raising champion. My team won neither, but I was honored to be one of the 8 instructors for the event. I was also honored that Ken Green, David Wilkes, Sandy Raynor, Terry Iwasko, Preston Conrad, Josh Ginsburg, Julie Renshaw, Andrea Eberbach, Eva Cheung and David Stahl participated in this worthy cause.

Kurt Kinetic publishes a power curve that coincides with their trainer. XX mph = XXX watts. The caveat is that you have to give 2.5 to three turns of resistance to the flywheel in order for the power readings to be accurate. Unfortunately, many folks don’t do that and only give half a turn or one turn and then get a false sense of security by thinking they are doing phenomenal watts. The devil is in the details, as they say.

Nonetheless, the idea at Spin4Heroes is to give as little resistance as possible in order to go as fast and accumulate as many miles as possible. As I strolled the room before I began participating in my team’s relay I was seeing speeds of 24, 25 mph on some trainers. That is almost impossible to do with proper resistance on the kurt kinetic fluid trainer. I had come to the event more to contribute than to compete, but you guys all know me. I had to lay down one good effort. So on one of my 15 minute legs I let loose with an avg speed of 26.7 mph (low resistance).

And I paid for it. Lots of people in a small room, lots of sweat, cooling and re sweating, was the perfect receipe to get sick. I came down with the flu and missed several days of training as a result, only just coming back up to ride late this week.

Riding outside was a cautionary expedition today, but also a manageable one. By mostly sitting in and socializing I enjoyed being outside like all of us did. The sunshine and brisk temperature invigorated us to carry on with the trainer as necessary until those long, daylight savings days arrive on March 10.

If you’ve made it this far with your trainer, hang in there. You’ve only got about a month to go until regular outdoor riding commences. Now is the time to hone in on your goals so you’ll be ready to make an impact on your group.

Speaking of groups, there are several quality rides around town. Here are a few to choose from: Tue and Thur nights at Nebo Ridge. This is an entirely flat ride with little technical skill required as there are very few turns. Time triallists will delight on this ride.

The Heroes Team offers the Tuesday night Hammerfest from Hamilton Southeastern H.S. at 6:30 pm. They ride an approximate 4 mile course with 5 corners, some of which are tight, and a small rise before the finish/end of each lap. This is a highly competitive ride with average speeds being 25 mph or better.

I’ve been told of a ride that leaves from Indie Bike on Tuesday nights and goes northeast through Ft. Harrison and the hills of Indian Lake. Although I have not ridden with the group, I’ve ridden the course and am very much looking forward to this one. With the series of hills in the latter part of the ride, this is a break away artist’s dream course. Again, this is a highly competitive ride.

Lest we not forget the Wednesday night ride from Smokey Row Elementary in Carmel. This 25 mile route that utilizes hills, although fewer than those on the Indie Bike ride, on mostly rural roads. This ride tends to bring out the most aggressive riders, with several on a given night prone to throwing down attacks. Breaks often occur, but few stick the distance b/c the group is large and strong.

Until next time, keep that trainer handy.