Sunday, February 27, 2011

First PR Of 2011

Week Three of my 12-week training plan ended today with a 20-mile outdoor ride that brought me to 55 miles for the month of February, a personal record that topped my 2005 total by 4 miles.  To say that I don’t usually ride outdoors in February would be an understatement.

But riding outside today made me question why I don’t ride more frequently during the winter.  The temperature topped out at just 31 degrees but I was warm enough.  Maybe I’m just getting hard to it.  Not that long ago, I wouldn’t have considered riding on a day like today.  And there’s better clothing on the way: I have ordered some thermal bib tights that would have made today’s ride even more comfortable.

Perhaps the biggest factor working for me today was a desire to atone for a poor trainer ride yesterday.  I spent just 30 minutes on the trainer Saturday night, quitting in frustration because I couldn’t get my heart rate up.  I’m not fatigued or over-trained; it was just a bad session.

Monday will be a scheduled rest day.  On Tuesday perhaps I’ll greet March with a 1-hour outdoor ride on my lunch break.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snowshoe Debut

Checking the equipment in the front yard before heading out ...
Immediately after work today I stepped into borrowed snowshoes and headed out for my first-ever snowshoe hike.  I felt reasonably comfortable right away and walked for one hour at what felt like a pretty good pace.  The snow we got last night was really powdery and I was sinking quite a bit despite having snowshoes appropriate for my weight.  The going was much easier on compacted snow, but for the most part I was blazing my own trail.  Today I stayed close to home, venturing down the Eisenbahn State Trail (unplowed between Decorah Elementary School and Paradise Drive) and through little-used Minz Park.  Tomorrow I’ll be up early for a long conference call with coworkers on the East Coast, so I’ll take back an hour at the end of the day and visit Sandy Knoll County Park for a two-hour trek.  It will be warmer tomorrow and I won’t dress so heavily.  My pace should pick up and I’ll expect a little more of an aerobic effort than I put out today: 544 kcal, average heart rate 115 (63%), max heart rate 133 (72%).

A New Opportunity

WEMS, not WORS, might be the right choice for my first year of mountain bike racing.
Yesterday WEMS added two new races to the 2011 calendar.  A series to which I thought I could not commit now appears to be a very attractive option.  It’s less expensive than WORS and it draws a smaller crowd.  Competing in the 3-hour races, I wouldn’t start until 3 p.m.  Even figuring some time for warm-ups and mandatory pre-race meetings, I wouldn’t have to be at the race venues until, say, 12 noon.  That means no worries about overnight travel or very early morning departures.  If I had to choose right now, my 2011 racing calendar would look like this:

05/01 WORS: Iola Bump & Jump
05/14 WEMS: Stump Farm 12
05/28 WEMS: 12 Hours of the Northern Kettles
07/02 WEMS: Thunderdown in the Underdown
07/16 WEMS: Levis/Trow 100
08/21 WORS: Border Battle
08/28 WORS: Reforestation Ramble
10/01 WEMS: Wisconsin Endurance Championships

Iola is on the list because I would want a race under my belt before I get into the WEMS calendar.  The Border Battle in on the list because I want to build a family vacation to the Twin Cities around it.  This is all still somewhat speculative except for May 28, to which I am firmly committed.

So, what about road events?  It’s very doubtful that I will do any WCA or Wisport races this year.  But I will be there for Cheesehead Roubaix and for most of the Washington County Bicycle Club calendar.  I’m still waiting to see whether there will be a fast group ride out of West Bend on a weeknight.  That would be a nice addition to my training.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weak Too

The end of Week Two of my 12-week training plan finds me considerably less happy about things than I was last Sunday.  Nothing like another major snow storm—at the time of this post, one whose full extent has yet to be realized—to sap my enthusiasm.  We had some uncommonly nice days last week and I wasn’t foolish enough to think we would progress unhindered into an early spring.  But come on!  Last Wednesday I rode outside for an hour during my lunch break.  Tonight I can’t tell where my yard stops and the street begins.  It’s back to the trainer for the foreseeable future.  This weekend’s trainer rides were uninspired, my bad attitude brought on by the snow and then pushed to new heights of frustration by a malfunctioning heart rate monitor strap.

On the upside, I got to watch the Tour of Qatar highlight show on Versus today.  And I should have an opportunity to make my snowshoeing debut this week.  And I’m not this guy:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two Months From Today

Found on the Internet: A kindred spirit!
That strange little metric century concept of mine—Cheesehead Roubaix—is now just two months away.  It will be interesting to see how many people show up.  A lot of pure roadies are hesitant to ride unpaved roads, and Cheesehead Roubaix will feature 9.5 miles of gravel.  I get that it’s not a ride for everybody, but it’s such a good route that I think the people who do show up will really enjoy themselves.  When I tested the concept last April, the ride became one of the highlights of my season.  This year’s route is even better and I’ve done more to promote the ride.  You don’t have to register (this is a free, unsanctioned event) but you can indicate your desire to participate at this Facebook page.  The success or failure of any ride ultimately rests on participation.  Good company makes for fun even on bad roads in bad weather.  Bad roads I can promise.  Bad weather?  We’ll see.  Doesn’t matter.  Come on out and bring your friends.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Great End To Week One

Not out of the woods yet: we still have a lot of snow on the ground.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have begun structured training for the 2011 cycling season.  This weekend provided a terrific finish to the first week of the program.  On Saturday I rode for two hours at the trainer party and today I rode outside for the first time this year.  With temperatures in the high 40s and bright sunshine, it was a treat to spend 90 minutes looping through West Bend.  The Eisenbahn State Trail is passable from Decorah Elementary School north to Barton Avenue.  Most paved sections of the Riverfront Parkway and many city park paths are clear too.  Unpaved trails are still snow-packed, and even when they clear it will be a while until they are firm enough to ride without leaving deep ruts.  Looking at the forecast, there could be more opportunities to ride outside this week.  And it might rain.  A good, all-day soaker would clear up a lot of the remaining snow and wash the crud off the roads.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting With The Program

Monastic Black is the color of choice for the solitary indoor cyclist.
This was Day 1 of a well-structured, 12-week program that should result in excellent fitness by the beginning of May.  That's when my first competition goals will appear on the calendar, and everything before May 1 is prelude.  I have done numerous trainer workouts of the “easy spin” variety since December, but until today I had done zero intervals.  Mondays and Thursdays will be rest days, all others will be training days of varying intensity.  There are no absolute rest days, as Mondays and Thursdays are my heavy upper body weightlifting days.  But the weightlifting routine doesn’t tax the legs and only minimally qualifies as "cardio," so I think I’m good.

My last real month of outdoor riding was October.  I rode sparingly in November, just once in December and not at all so far this year.  I might get a chance on Sunday if the weather forecast proves true: I’ll be tempted by sunny and 40 degrees.  But the roads might be a mess due to melting snow.  Wait and see … I’ll consider it a bonus if I can ride outside on February 13.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shortest Month Of The Year

The view from my window.
I absolutely hate winter.  For me, every day like this one is a day closer to living somewhere else.  But I'll try to find something nice to say as February begins.  Let's see ...

It's the shortest month of the year, so even if every day sucks—and don't say it couldn't happen—at least there are fewer of them.

The more formal and intense part of my indoor training will begin next Tuesday, Feb. 8, and I’m looking forward to that.  It’s the same 12-week program I followed last year and I expect good form when my racing season begins in May.  I am also looking forward to the next trainer party on Saturday, Feb. 12.

There’s plenty of pro cycling to follow this month, starting this Sunday with the Tour of Qatar.  Versus will offer live streaming of the week-long tour.  Working from home, I’ll be able to follow along.  And it looks like Versus also will stream the Tour of Oman, Feb. 15-20.  Highlight shows from the tours will be broadcast on TV on Feb. 20 and 27, respectively.  I’ll have to hope for text updates on for the semi-classics Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Feb. 26) and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (Feb. 27).

Aside from cycling, my other sporting passion is softball and mostly for its sake I do a lot of upper body strength training.  I had a really good January in the home gym, and on Thursday morning I will increase my working-set bench press weight by 10 pounds.  When I do so, I will be out of spare weight plates and that’s a good sign.  Following the shoulder separation I suffered last August, I gradually rebuilt my upper body strength.  Now I have proof that I have added even more.  I won’t complain about having to buy more weight plates.

So, there are some things to feel good about … but if I see a groundhog running away from his shadow tomorrow I’m going to kill the son of a bitch.