Monday, September 29, 2014

The ride that didn't happen

Today's post was going to be about how I managed to complete a tough 25 mile ride for the Pedal to the Medal event on Saturday.  I was registered for the event and I intended to take my time and meet the challenge even though my longest ride of the year was just shy of 13 miles back at the beginning of May.  I panned on talking about the volunteers, the scenic course, the wind and how thankful I was for cooler temperatures.  It was going to be an epic story of struggle.

Alas, the tale was not meant to be.  I had logistical issues which arose with a vehicle in the shop and 4 grandkids needing to be a 2 different schools for their basketball games on Saturday morning. Family definitely trumps cycling so I didn't partake in the ride since we couldn't arrange the transportation of everyone to their assigned locations in a timely manner if I was dropped off for the ride, or I took one of the vehicles.

I am a little sad that I didn't ride, but it is more than offset by having watched the grandkids play their respective games. The 2 youngest are on teams in the same division and actually played each other so we had one win and one lose.  The second oldest played well, but his team lost.  The oldest played well as well and his team won! So we were 2 for 4 on the day.

Here are some pictures.

Would I have liked to ride? Sure I would, but in the end I'm actually glad I didn't as I would have missed the fun.

Get on your bikes and ride!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Amazing Jens Voigt

I am astounded.  It is truly amazing what a person can push themselves to achieve.  Jens Voigt today set the UCI one hour record by traveling 51.115 km on his bike in a one hour span. That is almost 32 miles in an hour.  He did it all alone on a track in a velodrome.  No drafting, no one to help him.  It was all Jens. I watched the coverage via VeloNews' feed. The also wrote up an article about the effort here.

Jens is famous for saying "Shut Up Legs," when racing. That is obviously what he was telling himself as the minutes counted down towards the one hour mark and he was actually increasing his speed near the end of the ride.  His early laps were just under 18 seconds and towards the end he completed several laps in under seventeen seconds.

Watching him reminded me of the movie 'The Flying Scotsman' which follows the career of Scotsman Graeme Obree.  in the film it documents his unique accomplishments breaking the one hour record through innovation with a very unique riding style for the time. His breaking of the record created a bit of controversy and was eventually disqualified but the UCI only to be later reinstated.

What is amazing is how hard and long they are able to ride at their almost absolute threshold. Towards the end of the run, VeloNews was talking with one of the Trek team technicians who was detailing the statistics they were receiving from Jens in real time.  Everything from cadence to power to heart rate was instantly available to the team throughout the entire ride.  With 10 minutes to go in the hour Jens' heart rate was 170 BPM and according to the team he can go significantly higher.

My hat is off to you, Jens for your amazing accomplishment as you retire from professional cycling at the age of 43.

Get On You Bikes and Ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guess what day it is...

While technically it is hump day it is also the anniversary of my birth 52 years ago.  I really do find it hard to believe that I am 52 years old. Personally I don't think I'm old and if you ask those around me you may be told that I certainly haven't grown up. :)  I know I am getting older, though as the body doesn't respond the way it once did.  I may have to make a much more concerted effort at improving my health in order to continue to have a quality of life that I want.

Quality of life.  To me that's the key. I want to do what I enjoy, but I realize that it must be in moderation and the good must be balanced by the not so good. Sure I can have some cake and ice cream for my birthday, just not half the cake nor a half gallon of ice cream! Not to mention I really then need to be physically active to combat that rush of calories.  Fortunately I can ride my bike and that is a good thing that I enjoy that is also good for me.

So, I started this post thinking I would do a look back over the last year of the highs and lows, the accomplishments and misses, but not today.  Maybe at the end of the year.  Today I am going to enjoy what I can and do what I must and be thankful for those birthday wishes from family, friends and acquaintances.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sometimes I amaze myself

OK, I have been riding my bike every day for the past 118 days.  Sure the majority of the rides have been short, in the 1 to 2 mile range.  I figured I haven't been doing much to help my cycling fitness by doing such short rides.  To test myself, yesterday I decided to go all out on my one mile training loop just to see what I could do.  My previous best was completing it in 3:46.  Last week I had done it in 4:02 and that seemed like the best I could muster.

Well, I was flying last night.  Looking at my results after the fact I hit 25.6 mph according to my Garmin before I had to make one turn.  Overall, according to Strava, I completed the 1 mile loop in 3:37.  That's a full 9 seconds faster than my previous best.  My average speed was an astonishing 17.2 mph. Here's the Strava report:

It seems that even the little bit I've been doing every day has been helping to build a little bit of cycling muscle in my legs.  Of course I was cooked after that short distance with my lungs burning as I tried to suck in oxygen, but it was a good effort.  I was very happy!

Now to work on quickly increasing my distances so I will be ready for the extended climb for the ride on the 27th.  Sure the climbs are only about 6 miles long, but they are a constant climb over that distance.

Get on your bikes and ride!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Crisis Averted

OK, I took my bike in last week for a tune up and some service thinking I might need to replace the bottom bracket.  I had talked to the mechanic at my LBS and he was going to take it apart and give me a call if that was the case. I dropped the bike off on Friday and they said it would be ready on Saturday by 3:00.  I was stoked they could do it so quickly. I didn't get a call on Friday, but Saturday about noon my phone rang and I was dreading the call figuring it was the bad news. I was pleasantly surprised when I answered and was told that my bike was ready!

So my wife and I went to pick up the bike and I talked to the mechanic.  The bottom bracket is worn and will need to be replaced in the future but it is still good to go for now.  They took the measurements so they would know exactly what to order when the time came. I was more than happy with the service.

When I got home I took it for a ride and it was wonderful.  No noises from the bottom bracket.  No wobble in the pedals.  It ran nice and smooth.

Fast forward 10 days.  I took my bike out the night before last in a light drizzle and right away there was a strange noise coming from the rear wheel. It sounded like a spoke making noise and it happened with each revolution of the rear wheel.  I stopped and checked for a broken spoke, but didn't find one. Figuring I should be gentle on it, I slowly finished my ride and took my bike into the garage to see what I could find.

I went around the entire back wheel checking each spoke. They were all good it seemed.  I decided to wait a day and see what might happen, thinking it might be the rain which was contributing to the noise. Sure, I knew it was unlikely but I didn't see anything wrong.

Last night I jumped on the bike for my ride and it was again making the noise with every turn of the rear wheel. I slowly finished the first lap.  As I got close to home I tried to note where the noise was coming from on the wheel.  I slowed to a crawl and started walking my bike and there was no noise.  I sat on the saddle and slowly pedaled and no noise.  It wasn't until I was doing about 3 or 4 miles and hour that the noise started again.  Fortunately I was able to stop the bike with the tire in the position where the noise occurred.

I grabbed the rear wheel to holed the position and carried the bike into the garage.  Noting where on the wheel the loose spoke was likely to be, I flipped my bike over and started checking the spokes one more time.  There was one spoke in the target area which was just a bit looser than the others.  I could tell by the feel as well as by the sound when I strummed it.  I grabbed my spoke tool and tightened the spoke one full turn.

I then strummed it again and the sound was close to those around it.  I spun the wheel looking for any deviation in it's true and there was none.  I flipped the bike over and headed out for another lap and was very relieved when it was once again whisper quiet.

Not sure what had happened to the spoke that it would suddenly be loose and making noise, but I am very glad it was an easy fix.

Time to ramp up the miles and the climbing because in just over 2 weeks I have the 25 mile Pedal to the Medal ride for Special Olympics.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Postponed until 2015

Well I am disappointed.  Went to the Viva Bike Veags site this morning and this is what I saw:

We have been looking forward to participating in this as a family.  Now its time to look around for some other, short, family friendly events.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall already

August has come and gone.  Its now back to school time and the start of the fall riding season.  At least that is the perception.  Unfortunately it seems mother nature hasn't gotten that memo and the last few days have been the warmest we've seen since the middle of July.  Our daytime highs have been in the 104 to 108 range and the humidity has been a bit above normal as well.  Certainly not the fall weather I have been looking forward to.

The warmer temps have limited the amount of time I have been spending on my bike.  I'm still riding every single day, but each day's ride has been shorter than they should be.  I'm only doing 1 to 3 miles.  Sure, for a lot of the rides, I ride hard for the short distances, but I know I need to really concentrate on going for longer rides.  I have impressed myself just a little bit with how fast I've gone on one of my new training loops.  I call it loops within loops on Map My Ride.

Basically I head out from the house, going around the outside of the neighboring subdivision, then I dive into it, loop around a block and head back out to make it back home.  One "lap" is about 2.28 miles.  I like the fact that I'm riding in the subdivision as there is less traffic that I have to worry about.  the roads are also in very nice shape.

Add to that I recently got my bike serviced.  i had thought I needed a new bottom bracket as there was binding and strange noises coming from it when I really applied pressure to the pedals, but a thorough cleaning and greasing and its good to go for a lot more miles before it needs to be replaced.  Now I can pedal and not worry that something will fail or that I'm doing damage to the bike.

My first good ride of the Loops Within Loops route had me complete the distance of 2.28 miles in 9:56 which netted me an average speed of 13.8 mph.  I rode it a few more times, not really pushing because of my bike issues.  Now that the bike is better, I pushed it over the weekend and netted a time of 9:10 and an average speed of 14.9 mph.  Quite an improvement, especially with the short distances I have been doing for the last few months.

I am hoping the weather does finally cool off and I can start getting in longer rides. My first real test of the fall is coming up on September 27 when I am doing the Pedal to the Medal for the Special Olympics.  We were supposed to be doing the fun ride next Saturday but there is no way to register and the organizers haven't responded to my latest email.  The site says to check back mid-August for the registration form and since it is already the first week of September, I don't see it happening.  I'm really bummed too as the grand kids were looking forward tot he organized ride.

So, let's get out there and start putting some miles on as the weather improves.

Get on your bikes and ride!!!!