Cycling

Metric Century Ride of Death

I got together with some friends and our goal was to ride the local rails to trails up to Massachusetts.  That was very close to a metric century, so that was our goal.

I have said many times that I don’t really like riding my bike on the rails to trails.  You are pretty limited in terms of speed because of all the people on there, and you have to constantly slow down/stop to get through the many intersections you pass through.  In addition, each intersection presents a series of obstacles, like steel poles or fences, that you have to go around/through at a slow (read unstable) speed.  Last year my sister-in-law got hurt when she feel at low speed going between a couple of poles on the way across a driveway.

As a relatively unsteady bicyclist, I am in trouble going through those things, and I dread it.  This ride was no different.  The trip was actually very smooth for the most part, and there were very few people on the trails in the beginning.  About 40 miles into the ride, we got on a part of the trail where two sections merge into one.  I looked back to make sure no one was coming from the other side, and proceeded.  I was riding beside a friend, and I pulled slightly to the side near a guard rail that was between the trails and a street that was parallel to the trail.  I felt myself get too close, and I instinctively reached down to push off the guardrail.  I couldn’t reach it and of course leaning that way pushed me every closer until…something on my bike caught on a support beam on the wooden guard rail and the bike came to a stop, I did not.  My bike stayed put more or less, and my feet and body went over the side of the guardrail.  I sensed a car coming and pulled my feet in which caused me to land on my feet and, because I was wearing cleats I slid back.  Fortunately I was very far from the car, so all was good.

My friend quickly asked what I hit and what was hurting.  To my surprise I wasn’t hurting at all.  I landed on my feet, my hand were on my bike/the guardrail, so all was good in the world.  In fact, none of my body made contact with the ground.  I did have a scrape on my left forearm, and a couple of scrapes on the outside of my right leg.  My Garmin 305, however, wasn’t so lucky.  I smashed it on the guardrail and the LCD shattered internally.  My front brake lever got messed up too, so I did the last 20 miles or so with only rear brakes.

I was able to fix the front brake once I got home, so the only real casualty was the Garmin.  I count myself very lucky, it could have been so much worse.


Rockwell Park – Bikers Edge Bike Tour

This past weekend I did the 50 mile Bike’s Edge Ride.  It was a really great ride through the hills of Harwingting, New Hartford, and Barkhamstead.  I didn’t plan on a 50 mile ride, in fact I was thinking that 25 was more my style, but at the last minute I was convinced to do the 50 miler.

I have to say, I’m glad I did.  The morning started off rainy, I almost blew off the ride completely.  The rain ended at 7:30, and I was at the even in Rockwell Park in Bristol by 8.  A little after 8:30 we took off, and within about 30 minutes the sun came out.  The day ended up being perfect.  The route was great!  Enough hills to keep it interesting, but plenty of flat areas and down hills to keep you fresh.  Of course, the scenery can’t be beat.  I think I might turn the route into my standard 50 miler.  I think I can trim a handful of miles off and get it down to 30 or so, while maintaining the best parts of the ride.

I have a couple more rides coming up, including a ride on the rails to trails from Framington into Massachusetts.  That should be fun.  After that it will likely be time to start up that spin class again.


Training Ride

I had planned to do an open water swim today, spent all day psyching myself up to do it, only to get an email from my wife asking if I wanted to do a bike ride instead.  Yay!

So we decided to do the Farmington women’s triathlon route just to see what it was like.  My wife is considering doing the women’s tri, and she is still getting her bike legs, so she wanted to make sure it wasn’t too taxing.

We ended up doing a 16 mile loop, a bit longer than the tri route, but still not too bad.  During the ride I noticed that my brakes weren’t adjusted properly.  I had to really crank on the back brake to get it to slow me down effectively.  I tried to adjust it at a stop and then I took off on route 4.  The wind really picked up, and as I pushed through it I felt like I was going up a really steep incline.  I thought to myself “wow, this is brutal, all that I’ve heard about the wind making rides difficult is so true.”  I couldn’t wait to turn the corner.  I finally took a right, but the wind was still there.  I had geared up as much as I could and I was really pushing hard.  I was sweating profusely.

I looked back and my wife was right with me, I assumed that I was providing a wind break, and that she was really laboring to keep up.  About 5 minutes later I hear “Why are you going so slow?” from my wife.  At that moment I realized that it wasn’t the wind that was causing the problem.

I pulled over and spun the back wheel.  Sure enough the brake was catching.  My rear brake isn’t aligned properly, and I didn’t have a tool to fix it, so tightening the brake caused one side to rub.  I loosened it back up and suddenly the wind was not a factor.  Sheesh, that was brutal.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, but wow, I need to bring my bike tool with me going forward.

Incidentally, the ride was easy, no big hills, pretty much a flat course.

Next on tap, some swim drills.


Open Water Swim Training Brick Adventure

This weekend we did a swim/bike brick. It started with a swim at Brody Pond in New Hartford. We swam to a buoy on the other side of the pond, and back. The swim was…interesting. About half way out I started to think, that, in general, is an issue. I wouldn’t say that I freaked out, but my mind was telling me I was tired and should go back.

I was swimming with a group that included my sister-in-law, and when I go to the halfway point I asked her if she was ready to go back. She said that she wanted to do the whole thing, so, unfortunately, I had to do it too. I’m glad that she pushed me to be honest, I’m glad that I did it. I was swimming slow and easy with my wetsuit. I never got tired (other than my mind playing tricks with me). When we got to the turnaround, I felt thrilled.

On the way back, the swim was “easy.” It just goes to show that the whole thing is mental. I did have some sighting issues. I kept drifting to the right. I would then over-correct, and at one point I was swimming perpendicular to the shore. Odd, but I wasn’t freaking out. The rest of the group spun around and did another half mile while my sister-in-law and I practiced sighting in near the shore.

Once we wrapped up the swim we got on our bikes and did the 24 mile Litchfield Hills triathlon route through New Hartford. The ride was uneventful for me, and I felt ready to run when I finished. Unfortunately I was the only one ready to run, so we just grabbed lunch and headed for home.

Coming off the last tri’s horrible swim, this weekend was a real confidence booster. Lets see how the next one goes.

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Keep the flame alive

Last evening I was tired and actually somewhat disoriented.  I was scheduled to go spin and do a swim, but I really just wanted to lay down.  I ended up going anyway.  I needed to get a good swim in so I figured, if I’m going out, I should just go for it.  By the time I started on the spin bike I felt much better.  We had a substitute instructor, and I would qualify this class as an easy recovery ride.  It hit the spot because I’m not sure I had an all out ride left in the tank.

At any rate, when I finished the spin, I moved to the pool and tried one more time to have a good swim.  I was a bit more organized in my swim.  Ok what I mean to say is that I didn’t feel like I was floundering, but I didn’t follow through with the proper breathing.  As the swim got longer I feel back on my old habits.  The result is that I swam solidly, but slowly, really slowly.  It took 13 minutes and change to swim 11 laps.  That is without a break.  I feel like I’m going backwards in terms of performance.

In hindsight I realize that there were a number of factors that contributed to the slow speed.  The first was that I was deliberately moving more slowly than usual, at least at first, so there’s that.  In addition, my stroke is a mess, I am using energy to push myself up instead of forward.  I need to work on that.  I’m hoping to get one more swim in before this weekend’s YMCA triathlon.  We’ll see how it goes.


Controlled Drowning

I have slowly begun the training process.  It hasn’t been easy, I was getting used to slacking off.  The last couple of weeks I have mange to get some spin classes and swimming in.

In terms of swimming I am working on my breathing technique by doing superman style drills.  I lay on my stomach floating in the water with my hands out over my head and overlapping.  The whole time my face is in the water I am exhaling with my nose and mouth.  When I need to breath I take a stroke and take a breath.  I do this a length at a time, and it works well.

Last night I tried to incorporate the breathing into my new swim stroke.  It was awkward to say the least.  If I had to sum up the event, I would say that it resembled controlled drowning.  It is really hard to get everything synced up, and there was more than one time where I got a mouth full of water instead of air.  The good news is that I was able to recover and get a good breath on the next stroke.  So it seems that as long as I don’t panic I should be ok even if I get a little water in my mouth when I go for air.

Later on I tried to slow everything down.  Slow my arms, slow my pace, and then things seemed to feel much better.  Look at that, slow down to go faster, it almost makes sense.  At any rate, now that I am getting better at breathing, I don’t have to breath every other stroke, so I can be a bit more efficient.  The next step is to get my stroke straightened out.  Lots of work to do there, but I’m optimistic.

Incidentally, I had the first triathlon of the year a couple of weeks ago.  It went ok, and I’ll dedicate a post to it when I get a little time.

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Back in the saddle

I had my first spin of the year today. OK, so it was actually the first spin in a very long time. At any rate, at first I thought I was going to die. It took a good 10 or 15 minutes before I settled into a groove. I didn’t slow down, or ease off on the tension even when I was hurting, so I’m proud of myself for that. By the end, however, I was beat. I couldn’t keep the cadence up and I was honestly glad when it was over. It was just about the right amount of pain for the day. Heidi, the spin instructor, is almost uncannily good at taking you right to the edge of exhaustion and then bringing you back. It felt good to get the lungs going again.

After spin I met the wife and kids at the family pool, and got to play with the little ones while my wife got in a few laps in the big boy pool. I had a lot of fun with my little guys, and my oldest son is starting to really hold his own in the pool. The months of swim lessons are really paying off.

After play time we had a quick lunch, and I headed into a swim lecture with triathlon super coach Al Lyman. He is a great guy and had a lot of really good advice for swim training. After the lecture he video taped us and will be doing a swim analysis with video and sending it to us along with some specific drills. I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I have decided to dedicate the next few swim sessions to drilling on breathing. I need to get that down. I think that is the single biggest limiting factor for me. I hold my breath, and Coach Al was very clear that holding your breath is going to make you tired for no good reason. I will scour the web for breathing drills, but I think I have an idea on how to drill on my own. I’ll give that a try and report on my progress.


Of Mice and Mobile Transport

Fresh off my bicycle high I thought it would be cool to setup our bicycle trailer. So I went to the shed to get it out.  We bought this trailer at a tag sale back when we only had two children.  My wife was so excited that I could actually see visions of us pedaling down the local rails to trails path in her eyes.  Of course, my visions were more akin to me toppling over and killing our precious little kids.  As I’ve said, I just don’t feel comfortable on a bike.  But this latest experience really has me excited for it.

So, I go to my shed and pull the thing out.  It hadn’t been used yet and was almost certainly feeling neglected, or so I thought!  However, as I pulled it off of its shelf I got the unmistakable aroma of rodent urine.  Late last summer I pulled my also neglected hammock out of the shed only to find that mice had moved in and chewed through the ropes.  Why on earth would they do that I wondered, ropes aren’t food.  I just figured it was an isolated incident from a time when the hammock was left in the yet to be sealed off garage.  Of course now I know that they were chewing the ropes to build a bed in their little mouse condo on the shelf below.

It was horrible, a pile of cotton that used to be a hammock, and lots of little piles of what used to be mouse food.  Ugh, I was sooo mad.  Oh mouse why have you forsaken me!  See, that’s why people make mouse traps.  You guys can’t be content with hanging out and eating food, maybe causing a plague or two, no you have to mess up all of my stuff with your chewing and your …grrr.  Take a deep breath Nelson.

OK, so the good news is that the damage was minimal, I guess nylon doesn’t taste as good as cotton.  So I scrubbed it with a disinfecting cleanser, hosed it off and let it air dry.  I think I just have to do it a couple of more times and maybe hit it with febreeze once or twice before I put my little guys in there.  Then it’s off to the local trail.


Weekend Review

This weekend was supposed to be our 5K race, the Cupid Run, however that was canceled mid-week so we ended up with a downer for the weekend.  We were really looking forward to our first real race.  We decided to register for theO’Hartford 5K which really seems like it is going to be a lot of fun.

All I did on Saturday was my P90X workout.  It was Chest and Back and it was a bear.  Really tough workout for me.  Of course that was capped off by Ab Ripper FU.  I can’t believe how tough that ab workout is.  I can’t even imagine a day when I will be able to make it all the way through.  I did a bit better than last time, but that doesn’t say much.  Needless to say, my whole upper body was sore the next day.

Sunday morning I did spin.  I used my HR monitor and calculated a burn of 560 calories over 50 minutes.  I think my legs were still burning a little from the P90X leg and back workout earlier in the week.  It was a really great workout.

After spin we went to the pool and did laps.  I started right out of the gate to try to get some laps in.  Before my wife even got to the pool from the locker room I had finished 4 laps in a row and felt good.  I tooled around a little more trying to help my wife with her form (like the blind leading the blind) and wrapped up the day with an attepmt to max out my laps.  My goal was to go for as many laps as I could before needing to stop.  I had cycles where I felt I couldn’t go any longer, but then I would get a rhythm and I would feel perfectly fine.  I got all the way to 6 laps and then I notice a couple of people trying to find a lane.  I stopped to let them in, but I think I could have squeaked out another lap or two.  I did the 6 laps in about 7:22.  That’s about 1:14 a lap. That isn’t quite at my goal of 1 minute per lap or better, but I have until May to get to that.  My early laps are all sub 1 minute, so I know I am slowing down as I get tired.

The first thing to go for me now is my arms and shoulders.  They just start getting fatigued.  That is a big difference from my last race where my legs nearly fell off and I couldn’t keep my heart rate and breath regulated.  I’m wondering too if the P90X chest and back workout isn’t causing some of the fatigue.  As silly as it sounds, I will probably taper before the next tri, at least by not doing the chest and back workout on the Saturday before the race.

Tonight I did the P90X arms and shoulders workout.  My arms and shoulders are really mad at me about it.  I gave it all I had and I don’t think I have ever felt my triceps as sore as they are right now.  Tomorrow will be another swim session, it won’t be pretty if my shoulders and arms feel anything like they feel right now.  Ouch!

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Spin, Swim and P90X = Busy workout day

I did 16 miles in my spin class today.  It was incredibly hard…I have no idea why.   I’m not sure if the lack of fans was an issue, most of them were off today, or if I was beat, but I am putting my money on it just being a really tough class.

After spin I jumped in the pool.  My goal was to continue my forward progress on the contiguous laps.  I was hoping to get to 4!  I started out strong.  I felt like I had a groove going, and I got to the end of the 5th length and notice a large group of little girls and a swim instructor at the end of the lane looking down at me disapprovingly.  The instructor then proceeded to kicked me out of the lane so that she could have her swim class.  I had felt so good!!!

I moved over to share a lane with someone, but I just couldn’t get the groove going again.  I was beat from spin class so I just didn’t have it in me.  I gave up and went home.

Later that night, my wife and I decided to do our first P90X workout.  My wife thought it would be a good workout to incorporate into our training.  We haven’t been doing much strength training, and this seemed like a good product for that.  We just received it on Friday, so we thought it would be a good idea to give it a go.  We did the first workout in the plan Chest and Back X and all I have to say is WOW!

I absolutely got my butt kicked.  I had no idea there were so many different kinds of pushups, and had I known that there were that many, I would have had no idea that I could suck at them all.  Of course I did great on the pushups compared to the chin-ups.  I feel like such a wimp!

Once we got through the 1 hour chest and back workout, we had to do the ab workout called Ab Ripper X.  I couldn’t believe that workout.  It took me all of one minute to rename the workout Ab Ripper FU.  Absolutely brutal. I have to say that P90X is the epitome of no pain no gain.


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