Thursday, December 18, 2008

Form is Temporary - Class is Permanent

Every now and then there's a professional athlete that has the perspective to realize that they are indeed a role model, makes a difference in their community, makes a difference for their sport, and gives back to the fans who make them what they are. Trevor Linden is one such individual. Drafted second over all by the Vancouver Canucks, he was the face of the franchise for years. He donated countless hours of his time to Canucks' Place and other children's charities. In 1994 he took the Canucks all the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. He worked tirelessly for the NHLPA; standing up for player's rights and crafting the revenue sharing/salary cap model that is allowing the NHL to thrive today. It's too bad you don't see Trevor's attributes in even a small percentage of his fellow professionals.

Last night the Canucks retired Trevor's jersey. Check out the montage and live highlights from last night's presentation. A Western Canadian kid who's done us all proud:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Changing Things up with Off the Bike Training

Last weekend the SDBC category 4/5 team got together for a dryland training session with Pat Jak from FitnessQuest10. Some of San Diego's best professional athletes, including LaDainian Tomlinson, train at this facility.

From my perspective, it was definitely a learning experience and time well spent. Pat's philosophy on dryland training is somewhat different to what I've been doing with the Cyclists Training Bible for the past few years. The exercises aren't necessarily so much different, the big difference is the approach. The Training Bible is more focused on power lifting, whereas Pat would probably term his approach as more of cycling training.

For example, the Training Bible is all about working up to big weights with squats, lunges, leg presses, etc. During any session you do squats, then you move on to something upper body, then you do some core work, then you do some leg specialization. Pat's approach is to do squats, upper body, core work as well, but rotate through the exercises. Pat's exercises are also a lot more core/balance focused. He has you doing squats, but he also has you doing a lot of ball work, jumping, and off balance activity.

Saturday during our session we did some exercise and a lot of watching as one of our teammates played the role of the guinea pig. Even though we only did a fraction of the exercises, those that we did really challenged my left leg to work as well as my right. This is something that is challenging from a number of perspectives; first I'm never too sure just how far my left leg can go, second I can definitely feel my range of motion / bound up tissue being pushed with Pat's balance focused exercises. Afterwords I had the pain/relief feeling that only those who've had to regain lost range of motion can understand; tissue that is being pulled apart and hurts a bit, yet feels better for it. I'm optimistic that a couple months of Pat's exercises will provide a giant benefit to me by directly addressing some of the weaknesses I have in my left leg.

Saturday afternoon when I went for a long endurance ride I could feel the benefits of Pat's exercises immediately. My left leg definitely felt like it was playing more of a contributing role in my pedaling. As a result, I'm going to get away from the Training Bible weight program for a bit and give Pat's approach a try. As with most people, I naturally have a hard time letting go of things that I know well, even though the new approach appears to provide such an overwhelming reason for change. I'm still wrestling with myself a bit as far as the change in direction goes. I'm going to try to do Pat's exercises 2 times a week in the mornings before work and see what effect they have on my cycling performance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One More Week 'Till the Showdown

Next Monday will be the last week of the maximum strength phase of this year's weight lifting program. Last week I got up to 6 reps of 270 pounds (not including the bar, which weighs something like 35 pounds). So I've surpassed my goal of lifting 280 for one rep. My previous max of 320 pounds also appears to be well within reach.

Sometime during next Monday's workout I'll do a couple one rep lifts and see just how much I can lift. The weight you can do for 6 reps should be something like 80% of your max, so I ought to be able to do something like 325 plus the 35 pound bar = 360. Hopefully I'll have my crack spotter on sight just in case something goes wrong.

Once the maximum strength phase completes things will move to the strength maintenance phase, where the goal is to hold the strength gains of the past couple months through the rest of the racing season. I'll go back to 3 or 4 sets, doing 10 to 12 reps.

Here's a chart that shows my weight buildup for squats over the past couple of months (click it for a larger image). Note that the number of reps per set has been decreasing, while the weight per rep has been increasing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vacation / Tandem Riding

The weekend of November 15/16 Carol and I drove up the coast to Cambria (one of my favorite places) for some R&R and tandem riding.

Saturday we rode the tandem south from Cambria to Moro Bay, something like 58 miles return. Here are some pictures. This was a tough day of riding. Even though the terrain is pretty flat along the coast line, there was a big time Santa Ana wind going on. The upwind ride down to Morro Bay was a real grind. We were going 12 mph along flat ground for parts of this ride.

Sunday we rode north, getting in a 40 or so mile ride. This was a really nice day of riding. Little or no wind, cooler yet still sunny, and very peaceful.

The weekend we were away was the weekend of the big fires in Sylmar and Santa Barbara; luckily we were far enough north of all the action. Up in Cambria you would have never known that anything crazy was going on to the south.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Doing Well With the Weights

I'm a little surprised with how well things are going with my weightlifting. Months ago as I was telling myself I needed to get back into doing squats and leg presses I was envisioning myself lifting some big weight, my pelvis giving way and my femur flying out the back of me. Luckily it hasn't worked out that way.

Prior to hurting myself, I was squatting 10 reps of 225 pounds. Now that I'm again getting closer to the maximum strength phase of my lifting program, I'm again reducing the reps and increasing the weight. Last week I squatted 4 sets of 10 reps of 255 pounds with good form. When I looked back at my 2007 season lifting data to see how much weaker I now am I was really surprised to see that I was in fact now lifting 30 pounds more than I was back then.

The next 4 weeks I'll be increasing the sets to 6 or so, reducing the reps to 3 to 6, and increasing the weight. Hopefully 4 weeks from now I'll be able to break my previous max of 320 pounds.

After that things move into strength maintenance, the goal being to retain the strength gains of the past couple months through the end of the racing season. The sets will go back to 3 per session and the reps will move back into the 10 to 15 range.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Left Foot Kinda Works

Last night I got some one legged pedaling in on the rollers.

These are a really good way to work on the roundness of your pedaling. Because you've only got one foot clipped in to the pedals, that leg is forced to exert effort the entire way around the pedal stroke. There's no longer any opportunity for the opposite leg to help smooth out your stroke.

I've known for a long time that if I really wanted to be able to race well again I needed to be able to do these smoothly with my left leg. I wouldn't say it's all there just yet, but I was able to get 45 revolutions in on my left leg at a time. There's still definitely some smoothing out to do, but it's at least encouraging to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'll continue doing these at least once a week in the hopes that my shin muscles continue to strengthen.

Here's a great video of a guy pedaling with one leg, he just takes it a bit further and also does it with no hands on the bars:

no hands on the rollers

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Next Year's Preliminary Plan

Here's my preliminary training plan / racing plan for next year.

For those who may be asking themselves where the heck this crazy spreadsheet came from and what it all means; the training plan is based on the methodologies of the Cyclist's Training Bible. I picked this book up a few years ago when I learned the hard way that riding a weekly Saturday club ride was in fact no way to prepare to race.

At this point I'm choosing to be optimistic. By optimistic I mean that my sciatic nerve recovers to the point that I can legitimately pedal round circles with my left leg by the start of next season. i.e. I can again have the ability to sprint and jump away from the field. Getting back on my bike yesterday (for the first time in a month ) I definitely noticed that I'm better able to pedal while standing up, so that's a good sign.

If things do come out well, I'll definitely be gunning for some good results next year and driving to get the points that are required to get promoted to category 3. I think I have enough races done that I could simply apply for a cat 3 upgrade; however, it doesn't really make much sense to me to be promoted based on riding a certain number of rides. I'd much rather get there by winning races and earning points.

If things go less well, I'm still going to train to my plan as it's a great way to stay in shape and keep myself motivated to train. The less well path would have me probably only doing local races like the Del Mar Crit series, Barrio Logan, Encinitas Crit, and some other flater races. I'd also adjust my training goals and objectives if things do end up going pear shaped.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back on the Rails

I got back on my bike today. It felt great. I did a 1 hour endurance ride after work. I left from work, headed up Vista Sorrento, north on El Camino, west on Via de la Valle, south on the 101/Sorrento Valley back to work.

The next 3 weeks will be spent doing some hit and miss prep work to get my body back and acclimatized to aerobic exercise. I'll be doing some riding on my bike, riding on the tandem, and any other physical activity that feels good at the time. Riding will be focussed on basic endurance and leg speed.

I've also put together a rough training plan and racing schedule for next year. I'll be adding next season's racing goals to the site tomorrow. I'll probably also post a copy of the schedule on the site as well.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taking it Easy

Now that racing season is over, it's time to take time away from cycling, recover and re-energize for next year.

My plan is to pretty much avoid riding for the next 3 weeks. I'll do a little swimming, some weight lifting, maybe even some yoga. The goal is to remain active, while giving my body and mind a chance to get away from biking.

The MS 150 ride is coming up on the October 11/12 weekend. My original plan was to ride the 108 mile option the first day; however, I've since dropped that idea. A couple Sundays ago I began my plan to start ramping up my mileage and riding time to prepare for the 108 mile first day. That day I rode 67 miles around my old Sunday route. The goal being to do that ride, then add 10 miles or so per week until I got up to 85 or 90 miles. Following the 67 mile ride I realized that riding long distances like this isn't in my best interests. It took a few days for my hip to recover from the ride, and maybe a week to feel completely better. The bottom line here is that there's nothing to be gained from beating myself up over a 108 mile ride, while at the same time, there's plenty to be lost.

So rather than riding the 108 miles on day one, I'm instead going to ride the new tandem with Carol both days. 50 miles on day 1, another 50 miles on day 2. 50 miles on the tandem is no big deal and isn't something that I need to really train for. We can do the odd long ride here and there and show up on the 11th and know that we'll be able to get through the ride with no problems.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is the fitness opportunity I never got to experience last season, namely being able to train for an entire year and then put another year of training on top of that year's fitness. Two years ago I of course ended my season with a major crash that kept me off a bike and out of any sort of serious training for 8 months or so. Prior to hurting myself I was really looking forward to the following season where I'd be able to build an even bigger aerobic and anaerobic base on top of the work that I'd already done. This coming season I finally get to do that. They say that the first 3 or 4 seasons you race you should be able to see some genuine improvements year to year. I'm hoping to see this first hand next year.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fiesta Island Team Time Trial

I'm really glad I got to take part in this year's team time trial. We hit a few bumps in the road as we tried to assemble a team this year. We had one member who decided that he wanted to be on another team and another member that wasn't too sure if he was a good fit either. In the end we were able to bring Alcino in to replace Max and hang on to Patrick.

Last weekend 3 of our 4 guys hit the island for a serious practice session. We got 6 laps in at full race speed, which I'm really glad we did:

1. This year I haven't done much riding at all on my time trial bike. When you get laid out in your aero position you start using different muscles than you would on your regular road bike. My hamstrings were shot after last weekend's practice session, but as they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. After last week's chance to build some strength, I was definitely better off during the race.
2. We got to learn how to work together as a team at top speed. We learned who needed to take longer pulls at the front and who needed to pull off more quickly in order to keep things smooth.
3. We all gained confidence and respect in each other. We knew that come race day we all were valuable members of the team, we all could finish the race together, and we all had an important role to play.

As for the race, we all came off the course feeling like we'd put everything we had into it. That's not to say that with more practice and preparation we couldn't have gone faster, but for a team that had one real practice and never had a chance to practice with all 4 members we got out of this everything we could have. Unlike a number of the other teams, we worked well together and kept our team together the whole way to the end.

There's not too much more to say about a time trial. You assemble at the start, your start time comes, you take off, get settled in, rotate guys through, and ride as hard as you can for as long as you can. I will say that our team did a great job of not being distracted by some of the other teams around us. We had teams that we had to pass. We had teams that seemed to want to race with us and would pass us, then we passed them, then they passed us, then we passed them for good. Through it all we stayed within our limits and kept the riding smooth.

The final results had us finishing 5th out of 10 teams in the 140+ combined age category with an average speed of 26.2 mph (57 minutes, 16 seconds to complete 25 miles).

If you'd like to check out some pictures of the event you can go here (our team is easy to spot, as Alcino is the one with the blue helmet):

Todd Willis' FITTT pictures
Our team1
Our team2
Our team3
Our team4
Our team5
Our team6
Our team7
Our team8

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ontario 5 - 14th-ish

Holy smokes, I knew it was going to be hot up at Ontario today. What I didn't realize was that Ontario seems to have been moved onto the surface of Mercury. As we waited for the start of the race, one of the guys beside got a reading of 112 degrees from his bike computer. My feet were about ready to burn in my shoes as we waited for the race to start.

I was a little nervous heading into this one. It was a full field of 75+ guys and as we all know by now, there always seems to be at least one crash at Ontario, particularly in the category 4/5 race. A full field like this only means more opportunity for chaos.

Empirical evidence over the past 3 races I've entered, has shown that I'm not going to be sprinting or jumping away from anyone for a while yet. So my plan going into this race was two pronged:

1. With 15 or 20 minutes to go, if the opportunity presented itself to get away in a break, give it everything I had to see if I could make it work.
2. If the race was heading to a bunch finish, get one of my teammates to the front for the finish.

Unfortunately I failed in both attempts. The break opportunity never really presented itself. There were a few moments when one guy or another was 5 seconds ahead of the field, but I was always jammed in the middle of the field when this happened, so it was impossible for me to try to get up the road and join in on the fun.

As far as the helping a teammate goal went, I thought I had things all set up just perfect with 2 laps to go. I found one of my teammates right next to me with 2 laps to go. I told him to work with me to get to the inside of the course and get on my wheel. My plan was to position us in a nice spot on the inside for the final lap. With the wind blowing from the southwest, being on the inside and out of the wind is a major advantage on the home stretch of this course.

With 1 lap to go we were right on the inside, about 20 riders back. A little further back then I wanted to be, but I knew that some riders would start dropping off in front of us. I also knew that I didn't want to be right on the front like I was last time with Alcino. That failed miserably as I couldn't hold it long enough at the front and when I pulled off Alcino was right in the wind with 1 lap to go. This time as we headed into the wind with half a lap to go our nice position on the inside suddenly evaporated. We didn't fall back so much as a surge went up the inside resulting in us now being surrounded on both sides by riders. My goal of surging up the inside for the final half lap to get Michael to the front was dead.

So at this point my focus shifted to trying to stay safe through the corners and doing the best that I could to finish well. With everyone trying to surge toward the front and people not keeping their front wheels clean through the corners, the inevitable finally happened. As we came through the final turn, two guys came together right in front of me, bounced off each other and hit the ground hard. I was lucky enough to be able to ride right through the gap that lay between them and started to hammer it for the finish. I passed a few people along the way and believe that I got 14th. Nothing to hold a parade over, but certainly a good result for a guy who is making due with only 1.5 legs.

By the end of the race I was completely done. Riding hard in 110 degree heat for 40 minutes is a tough, tough gig.

I should have some pictures and a movie or two to post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ladera Ranch

I went into this race hoping to be able to ride at the front and sprint hard at the end. I know that I don't have the leg speed/power to be able to win a race right now, but I at least wanted to see what I could do if I did try my hardest.

Ladera Ranch is a fairly flat, 4 corner sort of course that circles a residential park. For the most part the course was nice. The corners however, presented a fairly high risk. Each of the intersections that surrounded the park had islands in the middle of them, so each corner narrowed the course down to a single lane. Category 4 racers seem to have a real problem understanding that if they dive up the inside of the field right before a narrow corner that carnage is going to ensue, so I was a little nervous when I saw how much the corners narrowed things.

This was a 45 minute race. The first 15 minutes were spent with me trying to hold on as the field surged out of the corners. My issues in my left leg make it tough for me to deal with the quick accelerations that come as the group accordions in and out of corners. Once things slowed down a bit I was able to find a nice spot in and around some guys who were taking the corners pretty smoothly. The middle of the race then went along pretty smoothly.

The last third of the race things started to get a bit more hairy. With me planning on getting on a plane for vacation as soon as the race ended, getting home safe was a much bigger priority for me than getting in an accident while trying to win. I told myself that if I couldn't get up into the top 15 with 3 laps to go I was going to drop out. With the speed picking up, riders getting more aggressive in the corners, etc. I wanted to ensure that I'd be out of the craziness that I knew was going to happen further back in the field.

With 3 laps to go I was able to blast my way to the front coming into corner 4. As much as I wanted to continue to hammer on things at the front, I just didn't have the sort of legs that were going to allow me to do so. I held on as best I could, kept it safe through the corners, and came home in 23rd. No big accomplishment, but it was nice to get another race under my belt.

More than anything, this race proved even more to me that I really need to wait until my leg is working properly before I try go get too serious about racing.

I'm going to do the 5th Ontario crit this coming weekend (8/24) and the September Fiesta Island Team Time Trial. After that I'm done for the year. Sometime around October I'll start thinking about next year.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Team TT Practice on Fiesta Island

This morning the mighty SDBC category 4/5 team headed out to Fiesta Island to do some team time trial practice. With a team time trial coming up on the island in September, it's time to start preparing. There were a couple goals today:

1. Get comfortable riding close together. Riding in a tight pace-line when using aerobars is fairly dangerous. When you're stretched out you don't have any brakes at your fingers like you would on a road bike. If you want to slow down on the TT bike you've got to move your hands out to your wide bars, so your reaction time is time delayed a second or so.
2. Figure out how we want to divide our group of 12 guys into teams of 4.

Last season I planned to participate in the team TT. Obviously my accident sort of got in the way of me taking part. This season I feel like the time trial is going to fit right into the sweetspot of where I'm at with my training. I'm riding great on longer threshold rides on flat ground.

As it turns out, I'm not only feeling good about my ability to time trial, I am time trialing well. Our agreed method for determining team combinations for the time trial was to do a short individual time trial around the island. For those who know the course, we did a short lap, rather than the long way around. My time for one lap was 4 minutes 39 seconds; which was the best time of the day. Very few people even beat 5 minutes.

Now that I know who I'll be riding with, the goal will be to start practicing as a team of 4 every week or two such that we can start working like a well oiled machine. The time trial itself will be 40k and should take less than an hour to complete. Team work will play a huge role in the success or failure of any team. Being able to work as a cohesive unit, keep the speed consistent, and ensure that the entire team stays fresh is key.

So things are definitely coming together well. Next Sunday I'm going to race the Ladera Ranch Criterium. I'm going to be approaching this one with the intent of winning. We'll see how it turns out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick Note on Torrey Pines

The good old SDBC group ride always ends with a slog up Torrey Pines. Torrey isn't any sort of mountain or anything, but it is a pretty good climb, especially at the end of a hard group ride. By my calculations its about 1.6 miles of distance and a very steady 420 feet of vertical gain (420/8,448*100 ~ 5% gain).

This last week I did it in 7 minutes, 11 seconds, which I believe is a new best time for me. Average speed of 13.3 mph at an average of 345 watts. It's even nicer to know that I can definitely do it faster. With the Ontario race coming up the next day I didn't want to kill myself, so I kept my heart rate under 180.

I'm definitely starting to feel pretty good about how I've recovered from my leg injury. If I didn't have my foot drop to contend with on a daily basis I might even have forgotten that I'd ever hurt myself.

Ontario 4

Yesterday (7/21) I headed up to Ontario with the rest of the SDBC 4/5 team to race in the 4th instalment of this year's Ontario Crit Series.

If you've been reading the blog since the beginning you know that Ontario is as flat as it gets, wide roads and fast. This course also seems to have a way of leading to accidents when you'd least expect them. Last year this was the course where a junior decided to veer out of the middle of the pack taking me and others out, resulting in a separated shoulder for yours truly. I've also seen a few strange crashes on this course where the field is rolling along a straight piece of road and all of a sudden 15 guys are on the ground.

My goals for this race were pretty simple:

1. Ride with the field the entire race.
2. Play a role that would help one of my teamates succeed. Our club is trying to pick up as many SoCal Series points as we can right now, so top results matter more than ever.
3. Stay safe.

Talking with the team before the race we agreed that my job was going to be to get on the front with a couple laps to go and try to keep the pace as fast as possible. While I don't think any of them believed I'd actually be able to get this job done, I was happy to take it on. First, being at the front keeps you away from all the craziness that can happen towards the end of one of these races. Second, I really wanted to test myself in this race. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to sprint with the really fast guys at the end, so getting on the front and hammering it with a couple laps to go would be a good alternative. Finally, keeping the pace high would disuade others from attacking early and allow our sprinters the chance to do their thing.

The course at this event is a pretty good sized lap, 1.2 miles. It wasn't too hot yesterday, maybe 85 or something. The wind on the otherhand was pretty strong, which makes riding on the front of the field a very tough job. When we were headed into the wind we were typically down to about 22 mph, which is pretty slow for a course as fast as this one. No wind and the pace would have been closer to 27 mph.

The race went pretty well for me. After the first couple of laps I was beginning to feel like my old self again. I was able to move up through the field when I wanted to. I was pretty comfortable riding in the middle of the group. I pretty much settled in on the rear of one of the wide bodies, held his wheel and took it as easy as I could.

About a third of the way in I found myself near the front, so I pulled all the way through and led the field around a lap. I definitely spent some energy doing this, but it was valuable to get on the front and get a good read on whether I was really fast enough to expect to pull the field with 2 laps to go. Sometime soon after the requisite stupid accident happened. Some junior decided that it would be a good idea to have a drink while riding around a corner at 25 miles per hour surrounded by other riders. Sure enough a guy went over his rear wheel breaking his collar bone in the process. I still don't understand why the guy who was injured didn't get up, walk his bike back to his car, and drive to the hospital; instead someone called 911 and the race was neutralized for 10 minutes while the paramedics got on the course and carted him off.

When we finally got back to racing there were maybe 10 minutes to go. This situation made me pretty nervous. Giving 50 or so guys 10 minutes to pedal slowly and get their breath back only means that some of the weaker guys were now on the front thinking to themselves that they felt remarkably fresh and wondering if they could indeed win this thing. Generally this only leads to trouble as guys who normally are spit off the back by now are instead mixing it up at the front.

With two laps to go I hauled ass up to the front and did my job. I was secretly hoping that I might even be able to pull away from the field, never mind just keep the pace high. However, each time I looked back to see if I was pulling away there was a guy right on my wheel. So no dice on the break away. What I wished I'd known when I was on the front was that the SDBC rider who was on my wheel was Alcino, one of our better finishers. If I knew it was him I would have tried harder to hold my position right to the end. With 1 lap to go I was really starting to run out of steam, I pulled off thinking that one of our other grinders was the guy behind me, unfortunately what really happened was that Alcino was now on the front with the wind in his face.

Just to keep things real, as I was dropping back and heading through turn 1, some clown went racing right across my front wheel and headed straight for the curb/dirt on the outside of the corner. He cratered pretty hard, but luckily for him, he didn't get to pile into a giant piece of cement like I did when I broke my leg. By the time I came back around for a warm-up lap there was no sign of him, so I guess he came out of it okay.

As for the finish, Alcino finished somewhere in the top 20. Kely Campbell, probably our best sprinter, took fourth. All in all a great day.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Laying the Smack Down

I rode the SDBC Saturday "B" ride this past Saturday. One of the things I really noticed when I did the Green Trolley race was that my pack riding skills have seriously diminished. Riding by yourself is a very different dynamic than riding in a pack. When you ride in a pack you've got so much more to deal with; you've got riders of all different abilities, the pace can be fast, then it gets slow, then accelerates quickly, then you've got some turkey who is beside you but can't seem to ride in a straight line, etc. These are the sorts of situations that you can't simulate when you ride by yourself.

Based upon my lack of recent pack riding experience I wanted to get into the middle of things, see if I could push the pace at the front, ride in close proximity to others and see what I could do to match the accelerations of the group. Things went really well. Prior to hurting myself I used to ride with the SDBC "A" ride, which is faster than the "B" ride. It's been a long, long time since I've ridden with the B group. Things have definitely gotten pretty complacent with the B crowd.

About 5 minutes into Saturday's ride I was feeling like the B ride had become a ride for the elderly. Things were moving along at a leisurely pace with no one interested in getting on the front and moving things along. Once we started to climb out of Sorrento Valley I decided it was time to get on the front and push the pace a bit. Initially this resulted in me being a few hundred feet up the road on my own, rather than having the desired effect of getting people to get on my rear wheel and speed things up. So I dialed things back a bit and gave the group a chance to catch up.

As we left our meet-up point in Fairbanks Ranch I again found things to be ridiculously slow. Fortunately Duane Noel, one of the guys on the category 4/5 team was at the front with me, so I had someone to trade pulls with this time as we again pulled away from the group. The pack finally caught me near the top of the climb up to stud loop, but it was great to see that I could pull away from people (at least on the flats). I was able to stay with the lead group around stud loop, which is a stretch of rolling road that really tests your cardiovascular system.

In Rancho Sante Fe I accidentally dropped my sunglasses, had to turn back to pick them up and spent a couple miles riding by myself trying to catch back on to the group. A little frustrating, but it provided a great opportunity to work hard and catch back on.

As we turned west onto La Costa, the elderly were again on the front moving the ride along at a snail's pace, so I headed to the front, pulling the group into the wind at 25 mph or so. It was the same situation as we turned south onto the 101, everyone was soft pedaling waiting for someone to do all the work, so I obliged and again worked my tail off at the front. It felt great to be back on the front pushing the pace and making others suffer as they tried to keep up. Frankly I'll never understand the mentality of people who join a group ride simply for the purposes of sitting in and drafting. The whole point of this sort of ride is supposed to be to get an anaerobic workout, i.e. pushing yourself past the point of your lactate threshold. If you're doing these rides right, you should have snot running down the side of your face, be breathing heavily, and wishing the pain could come to and end; not riding at a level of effort that allows you to carry on a conversation with a friend.

A couple observations on my current fitness:

1. My cardiovascular system is in great shape. Whenever I dropped back into the field for a breather I was able to quickly get my heart rate back into an aerobic range. When I needed to ride at maximum effort I was able to hold my power at a steady state for minutes at a time.
2. My power is definitely my limiting factor right now. I still struggle to keep up with the group when we head up steeper hills. At times of maximal effort I find that my heart is capable of giving me more than what my body is able to use. So there's definitely some room for improvement here.

Based on the success of this last week's ride, I'm hopeful that I might ride the "A" ride in a couple of weeks. I plan to do the "B" ride again next week. If I can really put the hammer down next weekend I'll look to do the "A" ride the following week.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Green Trolley vs. Red Trolley

I thought it would be interesting to compare the power data from last year's Red Trolley with this year's Green Trolley. There's good info to be gotten from this. Not only because both races took place on the same course, but because when I did both these races I was in a similar phase of my training plan.

Here's the Red Trolley data (Feb. 4, 2007):

Here's the Green Trolley data (June 28, 2008):

Note that the power peaks that happen each couple of minutes correspond to the short climb right before the finish.

For those who don't have a good perspective of how power (watts) translates to cycling performance, it's pretty simple, the more wattage the faster you're going to go. This is especially true on a hill where the speed up a hill is directly proportional the power to weight ratio of the rider.

One can see that in the 2007 race I put in 800, 750 and 650 watts the first three times up the hill. In 2008, the first three times up the hill I managed 650, 550 and 500 watts. So, I'm at least 25% off where I was near the beginning of the season last year. This can also be seen in the speed I carried up the hill. In 2007 I was closer to 20 mph up the hill. In 2008 it was closer to 15 mph. It's not too hard to understand how someone would get dropped pretty quickly if they were 25% slower than the rest of the field.

In 2007 my average power was 267 watts. 2008 225 watts.

The other big difference I see in the graphs, is that in 2007 I was able to increase my power on the hill back up to 575 watts during the last few laps of the race. In 2008 my power did increase on the last couple laps I did; however, it only went up to somewhere around 450 watts.

So, clearly I still have a ways to go to getting back to being ready to hold my own in a race. Hopefully over the next year or so my foot drop will continue to recover to the point that I can completely raise my foot. I think a big part of the difference in these power numbers is that I lose a fair bit of power in my stroke when I can't effectively pull up with my left leg.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Green Trolley

I did it! I participated in a race.

As mentioned in the previous post, the race was the Green Trolley. It's a 0.6 mile, four corner criterium, with a short hill right before the finish.

It was great to get back out there and race again. As much as I thought I'd be able to hang with these guys, I wasn't even close. The first time up the hill I dropped my chain. By the time I got it back on I was at the back of the field. Once things flattened out I was able to catch back on to the field. However each time we went up the hill I found myself about 15 feet off the back, trying to catch back up on the flat section. Needless to say, this sort of pattern can't continue for too long, at least if you want to stay in the race. Sure enough after 3 or 4 laps I was off the back to stay.

I then spent the rest of my time going as hard as I could, wanting to at least get something out of the race. At one point I slowed a bit and a couple guys who were behind me caught up. One of them ended up riding with me for the rest of my time in the race. We had a pretty good thing going, I'd pull up the hill and through the first half of the flat, he'd pull for the rest of the flat and down the hill. Thinking about it after words I realized that I was pulling into the wind and he was pulling with the wind at our backs. Probably not the squarest deal, but who cares. We got lapped twice, but still had a good time doing it.

By the time we got lapped the second time I was pretty much gassed. I shut 'er down and headed to the finish line to watch the last few laps. In the end, one of my teammates out sprinted the field for the win. I had hoped to be there to help him get the win. Obviously not to be, but in the end I can't complain. I came home safe, had a great time, and learned a lot about where I am with my recovery.

Check out the multimedia from the race (once again we thank my personal photographer, Carol, for the images (including the artistically blurred images of me on the course)):

Kely wins the race

Me warming up on the rollers

Images of me doing various things

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Race or no race?

Now that I'm feeling a lot stronger, I'm starting to weigh the pros and cons of going back to racing. I'm not considering going back to racing every weekend, or traveling to out of town events. What I am considering doing is the occasional local race that is relatively flat and reasonably safe.

One such race is occurring this weekend, the Green Trolley Criterium. I did a race on this same course last year (the Red Trolley Criterium). It's not the flattest course, but it is only a 10 minute drive from my place, is likely to be sparsely attended, and has a nice wide safe course.

Here's what I see as the pros and cons of taking part in this event:

1. Get dropped early on - It could be that I register for the race, do one lap with the field, get to the small hill right before the finishing straight, get dropped and my race ends right there.
2. Crash - I could be involved in a crash and somehow injure myself.
3. Pain - It could be that I've been away from racing for so long that I've forgotten just how much this might hurt (I'm talking from the fitness perspective, not hip/knee perspective).

1. Reward for training - I get to experience some tangible reward for all the training I've been doing. Regardless of how I finish, if I can go the entire distance, I'll feel like there's another good reason that I put all the effort in on my bike.
2. Redemption - It would be great to go do a race where I can prove to myself and others that my injury didn't get the best of me.
3. Measurement - Doing a race like this would instantly tell me where I really am with my fitness. If I can hang in a race like the Green Trolley, I know that I'm getting back to where I once was.

If anyone knows me at all, they know I'm a giant proponent of democracy. As such, I have added a new poll to the blog. Submit your vote and let me know your opinion on whether racing this weekend is a good idea or not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mount Palamar

Now that I'm starting to do some F2 workouts (force 2 - long hills; up to 8% grades that take at least 6 minutes to climb), I've started heading back out to Mt. Palomar.

For those not familiar with this ride, it's about 3700 continuous vertical feet of climbing. Mt. Palomar is north east of San Diego. It's about a 40 minute drive from my place out there, but the drive is well worth it, as Palomar is one of the best road cycling mountains you're going to find around here. This thing is no minor hill, Floyd Landis includes it on his regular training ride from his home in Temecula. There's even been a lot of talk of having the Tour of California use it as the finish to a stage next year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

June 14th was the first time I'd been up the mountain since February of 2007. Prior to heading out there on Saturday, I was feeling pretty confident in my fitness. My left leg strength has been getting better and better. I've also seen my power numbers get a lot closer to some of my pre-injury levels of late, so I was thinking that I'd just head up the mountain at a good aggressive pace and see how things worked out. My goal being to keep my heart rate no higher than my lactate threshold (around 182 bpm). What I found was that I wasn't really physically ready or prepared for the sort of fitness and nutrition that this climb demands.

First off, about 3/4 of the way up the mountain I started running really low on blood sugar. This is the infamous bonk; not enough glycogen left in one's blood stream to keep things functioning at a high level. So, rather than the 60 rpm cadence I had going the first 3/4 of the climb, I was struggling to keep my cadence above 35 or 40. Regardless, I wasn't going to stop climbing. I didn't drive all the way up there to quit without getting to the top. By the time I got to the top of the mountain I was beat. I stopped to eat half a banana and honey sandwich and then headed back down.

What I discovered when I started to ride back down the mountain was that my hamstrings were so wasted that I couldn't even pedal. They hurt so much that I could barely sit on my saddle. Basically I coasted the entire way down the mountain, barely able to turn my pedals such that I could even take the corners safely. When I got back down to my car, I had to get off my bike and walk up the small hill to where my car was parked, my legs were that dead. It took a day or so of recovery for me to be able to walk properly after this experience.

The next Saturday, June 21, I headed back to Palomar determined to put some of the lessons learned from the previous week (more re-learned I guess, as I learned many of these lessons last year) into action. First off, I put some dextrose into my water bottles so that I'd have more sugar going into my system during the climb. Second, I got started much earlier in the morning so that I could avoid the 100 degree temperatures that are typical for inland San Diego county this time of year. Finally, I resolved to climb the mountain a little more smartly, namely go at my threshold for 10 to 20 minutes, then take it easy for 3 minutes to recover, then go back to threshold, etc. This approach has worked well for me in the past. I still worked my ass off getting to the top of the mountain, but at least I got there in one coherent, functioning piece.

For the purposes of comparison, here is my power output for a trip up Palomar in February 2007:

Here's the June 14, 2008 climb:

And here's my power output from last Saturday:

A few things are pretty obvious here:

1. The June 14th image shows how my power (the yellow line) was reasonably consistent for the first 60 to 75% of the climb. Then it slowly fades lower and lower.
2. If you compare the June 21, 2008 and 2007 output, you can see that back in 2007 I was able to keep my power closer to 300 watts on most of the hard efforts. In 2008, the harder efforts were closer to 250 to 275 watts. So, I'm definitely not as strong as I was back in 2007. No real news here; a guy with one leg that is only half as strong as what it used to be, and who can't really pull up on one of his legs when he pedals isn't going to be as strong as he once was.

I'm still really happy however. I can still remember when I was lying in a hospital bed thinking how great an accomplishment it would be if I could ever even ride a bike again. Being able to climb one of the highest mountains in Southern California wasn't something that even entered my thoughts at that time. Being able to climb a mountain like Palomar validates that all the hard work I've put in to my recovery over the past year or so has been well worth it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Training Goals - Century Ride

I've signed up for this year's MS 150 ride. If you're interested in sponsoring me, you can do so at the following URL:

Eric's MS150 Page

As outlined at the bottom of the site, one of my goals for this year is to complete a century ride. I'm not ready to put in a 100 miles in one sitting just yet, but ought to be in pretty good shape to do so by mid October.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Force work in the hills

This past Friday (5/2) I did the first force focussed workout I've done since I hurt myself. The Cyclist's Training Bible F1 workout is an introductory force focussed workout. As you progress through the training phases, the force workouts graduate to F2 and F3.

F1 is moderate hills, the goal being to start out with an hour workout where you ride several hills of up to a 6% grade that take up to 3 minutes to ascend. The biggest goal in this workout is to stay seated on all climbs and concentrate on pedaling from the hips. Each week you add 15 minutes or so to the total workout time.

F2 is long hills; up to 8% grades and 6 minute climbs.

F3 is steep hills; more than 8% grades and 2 minute climbs.

Personally I find that these time guidelines are for babies. For the F1 workouts I normally do repeats up and down the north 101 climb of Torrey Pines. It's about a 5% grade that takes between 8 and 8.5 minutes to climb. So for an hour workout I ride from my place down to the foot of the climb, do 4 repeats and ride back home.

Having not done this sort of work in a while it's easy to forget what it's like to pedal well. When you're riding on rolling hills and flatter ground it's easy to get into the habit of applying the majority of your force in the bottom of your quads. By concentrating on pedaling from the hips you really start to work the muscles in your upper thighs, something I haven't done in a long, long time. Even going out Saturday for my 2.5 hour endurance ride I could tell I was pedaling a lot better. I was getting a lot more power from the upward portion of my pedal stroke and my legs were feeling stronger.

Four weeks from now I'll replace the F1 workout with some F2 work. Typically I do F2 work on Mount Palomar. This is a steeper climb where one can really focus on going up hills fast. Typically when I do these I start at the bottom of the south approach and climb for 10 minutes, ride back down for 3 to recover and repeat for as long as I need to. For those who haven't read last year's post on Mount Palomar, you can view it here.

As long as I continue to feel strong, the F3 workouts will probably happen the steeper Torrey Pines coast climb. That climb is shorter and steeper than the highway. It's more like 4.5 minutes to the top.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cycling Continues / Nerve Analysis

I've been doing pretty well with my training program so far. Last season I set my plan up for about 400 hours of cycling for the year. This year's plan is set up around 300 or so hours. I'm not going to be racing, so I don't need the sort of duration that I did last year. Plus with my recovery in mind, I didn't want to get trapped into over doing things. When you've got daily workouts and durations scheduled for months at a time it's a little tempting to follow the plan too religiously; not taking days off where your body tells you it needs it. So, I'm trying to under promise and over deliver this time out. When I feel up to it I'll put in some extra hours on some of the long rides.

I've gotten my power up to about 180 Watts when riding aerobically. Much better than the 100 or 120 Watts I was at when I first got back on the road. I'm probably 75% of the way back to where I was. At this point I'd say my aerobic capacity is getting close to where it was last season, the shortfall to getting back to 220 Watts at 157 beats per minute is a lot more related to the strength in my left leg, rather than my heart.

In other developments, I'm going to be heading back to the neurologist next week to have another EMG (Electromyogram). If you've never had the chance to get yourself an EMG, consider yourself lucky. Basically what happens is that a guy connects some wires near your nerves and starts sending some current down your nerves to try to make your muscles move. It goes something like this: (I'm making up the amperage for the point of example) zap at 1 amp, nope foot didn't move; zap at 2 amps, nope; zap at 5 amps, still no; 10 amps, still no. As this escalation in pain quickly continues you're just wishing your damned foot would move. As the appendage doesn't the pain gets greater and greater. Then the next thing that happens is that they stick some sonic pins into your muscles and listen to hear whether the sound in your muscle changes when you flex them. When one of these pins goes into an area with a lot of nerves like the bottom of your foot, it's a giant party.

Based upon the output of the EMG, I may have another surgery to take a look at my perineal nerve and determine whether it is compressed, severed, etc.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Back on a Training Plan

I've been felling stronger and stronger on my bike these days.

Last Saturday I rode the SDBC "B" ride again. Unlike the first time I went out, where it took me 3 or 4 days to recover, I felt great the next day. So much so that I went out for a ride on Sunday as well.

To date I've been riding an hour or so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then doing whatever felt good on the weekends. Now that I'm able to ride 6 to 8 hours per week, while continuing to get stronger it's time to start organizing my training a little more.

Even though people like my mom have been pushing me to get back into racing, I'm not ready to get too intense with the training just yet. Last season I put together a training program that went through 3 four week base phases, a couple four week build phases, and then some alternating peak, race and build phases. By the time you get to the build phases you're doing some pretty intense high heart rate interval training. I'm no where near that sort of physical capability right now. I'm also not planning to go racing this year, so I'm going to focus on repeated base phases that incorporate some increased intensity as I feel ready for it. These will strengthen my aerobic capacity and put me in a good position to achieve my goal of doing a century ride towards the end of the year.

For those who are looking for an organized cycling training plan, the program I've found that works best for me is Joe Friel's Cyclist Training Bible. It's not the sort of program where the author tells you exactly what to do every day and you just following along like a lemming. Joe's book requires you to read and understand the concepts of the program and then combine them with your personal weaknesses, season goals and available training hours to create something that is specific to you as an individual.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Accident XRays

There are those (folks like my Mom) who believe that there are miraculous things to be known by having and viewing the xrays from my injury. So for those sorts of folks, I provide some images:

The first two are of my knee the morning of my crash:

This is my pelvis the day of the crash. It's tough to notice, but you can see how my left femoral head is overlapping the acetabulum (portion of the pelvis that contains your hip socket), which indicates the fracture/dislocation:

These next two are from the day after my knee surgery.

Here you can see my knee from above, including the traction pin that goes through my knee, the wires (figure 8) that are holding my patella together, and the wires that head off to the traction weight:

Here's the side view of my knee:

The next two are from my pelvis the day of surgery.

Here's a Wide angle of my pelvis showing where the steel plates and screws are located:

Here's my hardware up close:

Finally, these next two are my knee 10 days after surgery.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One moment can change it all

This evening I saw the following story on one of the cycling websites that I frequent. It always amazes me how quickly life can take you from a momentous apex to the bottom of the barrel. In my case I was lucky enough to live to fight another day. Not so lucky in this case:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back to the "B ride"

A couple Saturday's ago I made it out to the SDBC Saturday ride for the first time in eight months. It was great to be back to see everyone from the bike club. I'm sure many of the regulars never thought they'd see me on a bike again.

A few days previous I began feeling like I was ready to try getting back into group riding. For those who've never ridden in a fast moving group, there are a few realities that make it a little intimidating:

1. You never really know what the skill or experience level is of some of the people that attend these rides. When you're speeding along at 25 or 35 mph in close quarters things can go very wrong very fast. Last year when I crashed at one of the Ontario criteriums I never really realized an accident was happening around me. All I knew was that I was suddenly on the ground and people were using me as a speed bump. So you've got to be fairly careful.

2. The toughest part of riding in a group is the unpredictability of speed. Riding in a rotating pace line is pretty easy, the speed is steady and the group moves as one. When you're riding in a free flowing peloton you are exposed to a constant accordion-like effect. Whenever the pack slows, for a corner, hill, etc. you can be sure that the acceleration that is going to follow will require you to stand on the gas pretty darn hard.

3. A group of riders can ride much faster than one person can on their own. Therefore, if you get dropped off the back of the group, your chances of catching back up are pretty remote.

Because I hadn't been on a group ride since my injury I was expecting that the surges of the group were going to be pretty tough for me to respond to. The fact that I can't really get out of the saddle and hammer on the pedals like I used to, means that I'm much more of a Steady Eddie sort of rider these days. Big surges don't come easy to me, at least right now.

The SDBC Saturday ride is in fact about 5 or 6 different rides:

- An all out, 45 mile, hammerfest "A" ride (no stops, no regrouping, 26 - 30 mph over flat ground), which I used to do prior to injuring myself.
- Nearly as fast "B" ride that includes a number of regrouping points. Same route as the "A", just goes closer to 24 mph
- A number of development rides that range from about 15 miles to 35. All at varying levels of granny-like speed.

I did the C+ development ride the first time I ever went out to the SDBC rides and I knew that I wasn't going to be happy to ride at 15 mph like they did back then, so I opted to do the B ride. My thinking was that at least if I got dropped I could catch back up at a regrouping point.

I managed to hang with the B ride for just about the entire ride. As we turned south on the 101 from La Costa (mile 35 or so) I found that I didn't have enough strength in my legs to hold on. This is where the ride starts getting cranked up as it approaches break time at the Java Depot.

No worries though. I got a ton out of this ride. This was the first time I've seen my heart rate go above 190 since I injured myself; I was able to pass a couple guys on stud-loop, one of the toughest parts of the ride; I was able to do my fair share of pulling during the pace lining the B ride does through Fairbanks Ranch; I rode up Torrey Pines for the first time since injuring myself; and I was able to hang with the group up most of the hills. It also took me two or three days to fully recover from the ride, so I'm not sure that I'll be heading back for a little while yet. We'll see.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Starting to put more miles and time on the bike

Things are starting to come together pretty well on the cycling front. I'm finally getting to the point where my whole body is sore after rides. i.e. my left leg is getting strong enough so that it isn't so much of a limiting factor any more.

I've started riding on my rollers, rather than the stationary bike on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Last week I took my rollers and bike in to work with me and rode in the exercise room in the building I work in. Riding on the rollers has been helping a lot. It makes my left leg have to work a lot more consistently. I still have a small dead spot in the upstroke of my left leg (due to my limited ability to lift my left foot), but things are getting better and better.

I also got back into lifting some weights one day a week. Doing so has helped relieve some of the muscle fatigue in my left lower back.

This past week I found that 45 to 50 minutes of time on the rollers was resulting in no pain in my hip joint, so I started increasing the intensity and duration of my weekend road rides.

Saturday 2/16 I went out for 75 or so minutes of rolling hills. It felt great to be putting some more power down on the pedals, although, it's also a little frustrating to see how far I still have to go to get back to where I was.

Today, 2/18 I rode for 100 minutes on the 101. It's a pretty flat ride, but still provides the challenge of trying to keep my heart rate down around 155. Today I found I was riding at about 140 watts while my HR was around 157. Prior to injuring myself I would have been closer to 190 or 200 watts at 155 beats per minute, so there's still a long way to go here. Today's ride had the added feature of blowing out my front tube while descending a hill at around 35 miles per hour. Luckily I was able to get the bike stopped pretty quick and avoid going for a spill.

Based upon how well I felt this weekend, I'm starting to believe that I'll be able to work up to a high enough weekly mileage to be able to ride a century sometime this fall. Maybe in a month or two I'll be able to get closer to riding 3 hour endurance rides. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Highly Recommended Movie - Touching the Void

I watched Touching the Void last weekend. This is one of the best movies I've ever seen. This movie is the true story of two climbers' experiences while climbing the south face of Siula Grande (a mountain in the Andes). One of the climbers breaks his leg near the top of the mountain. The two are then left to try to get themselves to the bottom alive.

The movie is presented in a documentary/dramatization format. Highly recommended:


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unexpected Meeting

Back on Saturday I went out for an hour ride up highway 1 and back home.

On my way back home I stopped in at B&L to pick up a skewer for my rear wheel. As I was standing in the bike shop talking to one of the mechanics, I suddenly noticed Dr. Serge Keska walking towards me. Dr. Keska was one of the guys who put my hip back together.

Back when I was in the hospital, struggling my way through life, he'd stop in every day or two to assess how I was doing, provide treatment as necessary, and if required give me a kick in the pants. When I think back to my lowest day in the hospital, the day that it became clear that my nerve damage was a very real thing that wasn't going to get better just because I wanted it to, I remember him telling me that he wasn't sure that I had the fortitude that was going to be required to get through this thing. To this day I don't really understand why it matters how much fortitude you have, when all you can do is lie in a bed and suffer. Regardless however; his challenge helped me pull myself together, adjust my perspective on life, and get through what was in front of me.

When I saw Serge, I introduced myself using my first name. He shook my hand and asked how I was doing. I thought he knew who I was, but I guess he was still a little unclear. He asked me for my last name and then all of a sudden his eyes lit up. His first reaction seemed to be surprise that I was out riding my bike. We talked a bit about how things were going with my recovery, how my hip was performing, how my knee was doing, etc. He took off on the remainder of his ride south, while I finished up with my business at B&L.

As I was leaving the shop on my bike I could see him up ahead on the road. Bad hip and all I was able to catch up to him without over exerting myself. We rode together through Solana Beach and Del Mar. Every now and then he would look over at how I was riding, seemly a little disbelieving of the fact that I was riding with him and doing so without screaming out in pain.

Bottom line, it was a really nice surprise to run into someone who had such a positive impact on my recovery. Without Serge's perspective on what it takes to recover from the sort of injury I had I'm not sure I would have come through it as well as I did.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back on the Rollers

After a couple false starts I finally got all the parts I needed to put together a rear wheel for exclusive use on my rollers:

1 used 10 speed Campagnolo Chorus cassette off ebay $56
1 existing Mavic Open Pro wheel with American Classic hub - free
2 trips to the bike store to get the right Campagnolo lock ring - frustrating
1 trainer specific tire - $25
= I'm back baby! I'm back!

Sunday I got on the rollers for 15 minutes or so. I was a little surprised as to how well balanced I was on the rollers. I didn't have to take my hands off the bars once and did a pretty good job of not drifting all over the place. My left leg is still a lot weaker than my right, so I was worried that the rollers were going to expose the difference. When you're riding on rollers, any sort of imbalance or inconsistency in your pedal stroke is instantly apparent, that's why they're so good at helping with the roundness of one's pedaling. If you can't keep things smooth you're going to be on the ground pretty quick. It was reassuring to find that even though my right leg is weaker than my left, I am doing a good job of trying to keep my right leg from doing more work than my left.

As with many things in my trek to cycling revival, I'm finding that I'm right back to step 0 with yet one more thing; my ass' ability to take it on the bike with any sort of consistency. Saturday I'd headed outdoors and ridden up and down highway 1 for an hour or so. Sunday when I got on the rollers and tried to ride I felt like I had the newbie tailbones I had when I first got back into biking a couple years ago. Ideally I would have liked to ride the rollers for 30 minutes, but 15 was about all I could handle on Sunday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Slowly Getting Stronger

I spent about 55 minutes on the bike today. I needed a Campagnolo lock-ring for a indoor specific rear wheel I'm putting together, so I figured I'd ride down to B&L Bike rather than driving.

There were a couple things of note from today's ride:

1. I can finally pedal while standing up. I can't get a lot of power into my stroke, but being able to stand is a nice step forward. I've been getting more and more ability to control my ankle the past couple weeks. I've also been spending a little bit of time on the elliptical machine; which simulates the same motion as pedaling while standing. It would appear that the added strength and control is starting to pay dividends.

2. I knew I was in the best shape of my life when I crashed my bike, but I don't think I ever really appreciated just how strong my cardiovascular system was. For example, 7 months ago I would have been able to apply at least 50% more power than I did today while keeping my heart rate about 25 beats per minute lower. My point being that my current aerobic capacity is amazingly bad, even though I've been exercising pretty consistently for a month or so. I knew I had a long, long way to go to get anywhere near where I was. Today really brought all that home.

My hope is to get back to riding on my rollers sometime this week. I'm expecting that doing so will help my left leg to work a lot more consistently, while making it easier for me to get some good aerobic work in.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Santa Visits Twice this Year

First off, I hope everyone had a great Christmas. On my side of things, Santa was nice enough to visit me twice this year. The first time was of course on December 25th. The second time was just the other day (more on this below).

I was up in Canada with Carol for Christmas this year. We got to drive up to Kamploops, with my parents, on the 22nd to visit my aunt and uncle that had moved up there from Vancouver. The drive was just as snowy as one might expect for the B.C. interior in winter; but with the new snow tires my dad had put on the car, things worked out really well. We certainly weren't ever in a position where we were having any troubles staying on the road. While we were in Kamloops we also got to stop by my cousin Sandy's place to visit with her, her husband Dan, and their three kids; Emily, Rachel and Julia. It was a great trip. I'm really glad we had the chance to get out of town for a bit and see some family. When you live a long ways away from family like I do now, it's extra special when you get the chance to re-connect with people.

We got to spend Christmas morning with Christy and Rich this year. Not a huge get together, but it was great to see the two of them out at my parents place for the morning.

Santa was very good to me this year. I'd been thinking about buying a new TV for a while. Now that I'm not riding my bike 10 to 15 hours per week, I've got more time on my hands to watch movies, play computer games, etc. Having my old school 32" display was starting to get to be a little much. Also, my old TV was definitely starting to get towards the end of its days. Prior to leaving for Christmas I nearly bought a Samsung 4661 (46" LCD 1080P TV), but by the time I was starting to get serious about buying one, they weren't on sale any more and it was also time to fly up to Canada. When I got back I started watching the prices again.

One thing I learned when I started looking for an LCD, was that the 120 Hz displays are noticeably nicer than the 60 Hz displays. Don't get me wrong, a 60 Hz display like the 4661 is really nice, but the 120 Hz models look even better. Friday night I finally decided I was going to make the big splash and headed down to Fry's armed with some pricing. In the end I was able to get a great deal on a Samsung 4671, which is again 46 inches, but is also a 120 Hz model. So I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful new TV:

As happy as I am, I think my entertainment center is even happier. Back when I bought the long, low profile entertainment center, I did it with the idea of putting a large TV on it one day. It waited 3 years or so to finally get a TV it could be proud to hold and that day has finally arrived.

One of my motivations for buying a large LCD was so that I could use it as my computer monitor if I wanted to. Christy was nice enough to give me a wireless keyboard and optical mouse for Christmas, so now I'm able to sit on my couch and surf the web on my TV. I can also play computer games on my TV, which is pretty darn cool. I've also been watching some of the DVDs I got for Christmas. Movies are a whole new experience with this display. I'm not sure I could ever go back to my 32" display again.