Thursday, January 29, 2009

i can relate

I can relate a little to this.

We'll see how it goes come the first trip down to the pain cave in April.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Here is the general plan for the next few months. It's just a compass to keep me doing something. Life is still super hectic and the point of this is to remove any thought process from training and make it just something that gets done (if time is available). Without this I'd not be motivated.

I'm already falling a few days behind. Just finished the 2nd full week of hypertrophy and it's going quite well. I've upped my weights from the what was first listed on the spreadsheet just like last year. 6 sets of 12 is starting to get old so I'll be glad when it's over. But then getting into strength, it starts into sets of 6 for the first week then heavier and sets of 4 the second week. I do get a little scared when doing the squats and leg press that week just because it is so heavy. But I always amaze myself at the end.

Doing endurance in March will be a lot nicer than in January as in years past. Though around here you never know what you'll get. Time will be a factor too as I just don't know what it's going to be like with work, school, family...But a plan is helpful just to have direction.

Now the SMSP in April and MSP in may are not going to sit well on a trainer. Maybe the SMSP because I can just get up have coffee and bust them out. And the best training for that phase is done on the trainer. But I can get the workout done early and then go into my day. MSP can be done outside.

The one catch is exactly what race lies at the end of this tunnel. Douthat is one that I've never felt that I've raced to full potential. I've cramped almost every one, and the last time I overcooked it too early, and rode the hardtail when I should have ridden the dually. But it falls on May 3 which is just into the MSP, so technically I'm not fully developed but at least it falls after the SMSP so I'll have some pop in the legs.

I haven't decided yet, maybe there will be on later in May or June to shoot for. But I better pick it soon to have some beacon, some goal to shoot for.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quick ride

Hit the mountain bike for a quick ride today. It was a good thing too because it got me off my but to get the bike back together again. It's been so cold in the garage that my wheels, linkage and BB have been in pieces.

In the middle of the hypertrophy phase I don't worry at all about riding or not. In fact it's usually a good thing to not do too much. And with the cold snap we've been having it's been since 1/1 that I was on the mountain bike.

Whenever I go that long off the bike I always worry that I'll forget how to ride, and that my skills will be terrible up and down. Sometimes though I've seen that when you're away from the bike for an extended period of time that I can do things, that I normally don't do so well, like ride a certain log or technical section.

Today the legs were burning badly at the first steep section but other then that it wasn't too bad up Old farm. Going down too I was happy that I remembered how to ride. I think the lifting I've been doing in the upper body was key to downhilling well. Last year I could feel and visibly see my body caving in from lack of lifting or something like Yoga. Lower back, shoulders, etc. Downhilling today, I felt much more connected and in control of the bike. My upperbody work has focused on chest, back and my external rotators of my shoulders.

On another note, I know that I gush about my Azure often here, but today again I just get this overwhelming feeling to shout to the heavens how much I love that bike.

From a value for the money it's hard to beat.

Several things have come together I think that make it click for me.
1) Progressive 5th element shock combined with a platform (Minute SPV) fork. Together I think the suspension action is balanced and tuned for agressive XC
2) Good setup in terms of sag/rebound. (though something was a little bouncy today)
3) Light wheels - Stans rims, tubeless, Laser Disc Lite wheels. Not the most expensive, not the most robust, not the best engagement, but pretty darn light
4) long top tube/short stem. I'm 5'4 and am riding the size 17" which has a 22.5 Effective top tube combined witha 70mm stem.
5) Learning to ride in the middle ring, and be more aggressive with throwing/hopping the bike forward on steep climbs - This a a new thing for me in the last year. But I've probably used the granny ring twice in the last 8 months, and each time I wish I'd stayed in the middle. I think this bike is tuned for the middle ring. Even though DW has a treatise here on why triple rings are necessary for duallies. Combine this with some better techniques for throwing my weight I've been able to clean some steep stuff in the middle.

Granted I don't demo any bikes so have little to compare it to beside my Hollowpoint, and a Salsa FS that I had for a bit and of course the hardtail. But the only bike I'd even consider right now even if I had money to burn would be the Azure Factory.

Maybe maybe a little, the Turner Flux, which has a DW link on it now. But out of sheer principle I wouldn't because of the price difference in an Azure and the Flux. I bet my entire bike right now is less than just a Flux frameset. And I also don't understand the point of a Fox 3 way shock. I cannot stand shocks/forks with knobs and dials on them that are designed for adjusting while riding. Maybe it's just me and my mindset that doesn't work with them. And if the suspension is so good, like I think the DW link is than there should be no need for having 3 different settings, except for locking it out on the tarmac.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Commute bike thoughts

Some random thoughts on commute bikes. Lately I've been commuting on my hardtail mountain bike outfited with a rigid fork. It's ok to commute on. Sometimes I go to work on gravel and the fat tires are nice. But for the most part it is a little slow. I've tried slicks and just didn't like it the feel of the 26ers with thin tires.

On the other hand I have commuted a few times on my road bike and it's definitely faster except I can't track stand on the road bike at lights.

That has been a function of how I learned to track stand, and I basically have the wrong foot forward in relation to how I turn the front wheel. With toe overlap as I have on my 700c road bike I clip my toe during a track stand. My road bike is too nice to commute on regularly, I would never want to leave it locked up outside. I feel somewhat bad doing that to my hardtail right now.

I've been thinking about what the best choice for a commute bike would be. I had a cross bike a few years ago that had a surly dropout which has horizontal ends with a derailleur hanger. I didn't do the geometry right and it just never seemed to feel right. I tried outfiting it with a flat bar, but that only felt right when climbing all other times it felt too scrunched up. Tried a super long stem and that just threw the steering off.

Several options I'm considering.
1)find a road bike with similar geometry to my current road bike. Considering that it is a custom built road bike with custom geometry this is a little harder than it sounds (seat tube 49.5, effective TT 51.5, upsloping top tube, 73/73 geom)
2) get road bike with a 10mm longer top tube that what I have and put a flat bar on it with similar stem size to what is on the road bike. This is a little more doable because my top tube was shorter than normal road geometry - the problem is that the seat tube might be too all).
3)getting a cheap 29er mountain bike frame and putting road tires on it
4) getting this conversion kit that lets you run 700c wheels on the 26er and set the brakes up properly

I think the concept of single speed is good. But I won't do that stictly because it is just such a hipster fashion thing right now. If I did though it's a little hard to find road bike geometry because everyone is making theses track bikes

I sort of think that drop bars are a better position for commuting on. It just seems that the flat bar on smooth roads places more pressure on my arms. Off road you are always dynamic moving around shifting weight all over. Drop bar riding in the hoods with a slight bend in the elbow seems takes more pressure off the triceps.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Hypertrophy 2 minute drill

I'm full swing into the Hypertrophy phase. Amazed once again of how well the body can adjust and adapt. A few weeks ago I was barely able to get through the transition lifting, and now I'm doing 6 sets of 10-12.

From a time perspective I would not say that the Hypertrophy phase is the best time efficiency. 6 sets of 10-12 with 2 minutes rest between sets takes some time. When I first started I used to rush through the rest. Lately I've been taking the whole 2mins and then some and it makes a big difference in making it through the final sets with good form and getting up to 12 reps. Especially as you increase weight ever other set.

The plan calls a Heavy day and then a light day the next. The light day cuts the weight by a certain %. So back to back days. Heavy Day/Light Day/rest/Heavy/light/2 days rest

When I first did this plan I said no way. But I am able to get through it pretty well. The rest days are the worst from a sore/stiffness perspective. Also I can feel my knees are week later in the day especially if I'm on my feet a lot. I've hyperextended my knees just standing around wrong in the past so I try to be careful.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A good dissection of mtb power needs

FastCat Coaching is a contributor to velo news a lot. I like what he has to say. His web page has some good training articles too. This article on the power breakdown of mtb is interesting food for thought.

It shows the bursty nature of mtn riding over a 10 minute climb. He suggests specific training that targets this type of riding.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

cold/impending sinus infection derailing hypertrophy a little

Got a head cold the other day, and I know, just know that it's going to turn into a sinus infection. I think the issue is that I'm chronically stuffed from about November through early spring. Non-allergic rhinitus due to coal burning plants in WV. So when I get a cold I think that there's already junk backed up and it turns to sinus infection within days.

1st day of hypertrophy was going to be yesterday. Took it off and did some upper body this morning. Tomorrow morning I'll go for the legs. I'm feeling ok, but am just waiting for it to go full blown sinus infection. Already have appt with doctor. Got on the sudafed immediately as well as the Neil Med but don't think I can prevent it.

1st few days of Hypertrophy are hard. I never make the plan. But things come around strong starting into the second week and by the end I've usually upped the weight a little. I am also going for full 12 reps before upping any weight.

Interesting muscle imbalance on my left side. The front part of the shoulder right where the pec connects to the shoulder is really weak compared to the right side. I am doing incline dumbell press and my right arm can easily do 10lbs more. Left side is barely getting the dumbell up. It's all tied to that small muscle in the front of the shoulder

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cool E-book

I saw on the newsletter an announcement for a new ebook of theirs called
The Ride of Your Life

It's about how to fit cycling into your life. A guide for the rest of us with demanding jobs, kids, other interests.

Life's been hectic that last several months, and promises to get more hectic. Work is on the rivet, add in seriously hard class, combined with lack of the prerequisite coursework, plus trying to think about research, plus the kids are getting older. Some might argue that the older the get that it gets easier. But I contend that the older they get, the more they need dad more than mom.

Pretty soon the math homework is going to get harder, and they will begin to learn to drive....That's a ways off I know, but just in the last 6 months I've felt the change in their activity levels in terms of after school and weekend activities.

This is regular life. It isn't what you see or read about in BIKE, and it doesn't include sipping latte's on the patio in Durango or Whistler after a kick ass ride with people with intersting facial hair, and stylish sunglasses. But then again, I live in an idylic college town with a rush 15 minutes and no beltway. I just can't even imagine the basal amount of tension the people contend with on a daily basis in most of the country. But with me, Type A is blind to the scenary

But somewhere in regular life balance needs to find a place. I've been missing that. With me, it always seems to be full tilt on one thing or another. Wide momentum shifts back and forth all or nothing. Drop one at the flick of a switch and pick another up. Like the BLOG. notice how there was nothing for months. Then lately several posts.

Not quite sure I know how to do it. But I'm gonna try. I'm putting the band back together (I hope). On the training plan. Just finished the 3 week transition for lifting and am starting Hypertrophy on Monday or Tuesday. My goal is to find a single race to put on the calendar. And follow the entire Morris training plan to (off season + my inseason plan).

A goal. A beacon of light in the distance. A compass heading to aim for.
You want to know how to achieve a major big deal goal?

Do something (no matter how little) every day towards that goal.

No big goal ever gets accomplished in one day. Or even one week. And my full tilt attitude and nervous anxious need to get it (whatever it is) done now, right now, doesn't cut it for the long haul. The tortise always beats the hare in the end.

So classes haven't even stared yet and I've got a little dream. Now you be the judge come Jan 20 to what kind of posting frequency the blog gets. It could all go down in flames in a few weeks. Dunno.

The good thing, is that Morris plan gives good fitness and results in minimal time. (not minimal effort). It can be made to fit into regular life. I just gotta make it fit that's all.

The training is something that will get written down on a calendar. With something every day. Even a rest day, has a purpose towards the goal. And each day leads to the next day a little at a time.

Somewhat sad a little, to require a plan to keep something so special as mountain biking in the picture. But desparate times require desparate measures. This is such an awesome activity, and the people who are part of my life because of it and the trails I've ridden, the empowerment that it creates, all the cool bike tinkering.... that it is something that needs to be nourished a little bit for a long time to come.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

3 week transition for lifting

I'm almost done with my transition lifting. I always want to rush it but know that is a bad bad idea. I didn't even experience the shocking soreness that usually accompanies getting back to lifting this time because I eased into it.

But my left knee has been tender. I've been icing it and taking some advil. I know that it is the lifting. My muscles can easily handle more weight especially on the leg press, but I'm slowly and deliberately increasing sets,reps and weight over this 3 week period. And have been taking 2 days off between some days to let it rest.

Monday, January 05, 2009

examples of hugeness

took apart my WTB Laser Disc lite hub today. I try to grease the pawls up with very lightweight grease every 6months or after some serious wet riding. Using regular grease isn't a good idea because the thick grease makes the pawls sticky. I have some left over Manitou M Prep that is great for this. It just doesn't last long because it is so thin.

But this time I noticed that a tooth on the carrier was busted out. I haven't really noticed it though. These hubs never had the quickest engagement so I might have just chalked any slipping to that. Overall I'm pretty happy with these hubs given their weight to cost ratio. They have a slight annoyance in that they adjustment requires that there be a little bit of play. So it always seems like the bearing adjustment is off or there is play in the quick release. Sure they are not Kings, Hopes or DTs but they are less than half the price too. And they aren't annoyingly 'hey look at me I have chris kings', loud. Not that I wouldn't mind some annoyingly loud hubs.

I heard that they have an upgraded system but am not sure if it would apply to my model hub. Hopefully I can get a new carrier. I think Cambria sells them.


break it down

a little bike maintenance has become a complete overhaul. Worth doing once every few years.


I ordered a bearing replacment kit from Enduro Fork seals but honestly only know how to get in/out one set of the bearings.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

updating trails at Hungry Mother

My wife rode at Hungry Mother today and saw a bunch of bobcat tractors and trail workers adding some new miles.

I guess they are extending the CCC trail and the Molly's knob trail so they are longer and are not as steep. The goal is to make it more accessible to a larger complement of riders.

There's some fun riding there. Some great introductory trails that won't rattle the teeth out of or require donation of a lung for new riders, yet still create some challenges for experienced riders when they turn on the speed. There is also no shortage of climbing when you hit the CCC and Molly's.

The glutton for punishment in me hopes they don't take out all the steep stuff. But anything they can do to get more bikers to the top of Molly's would do wonders for the general karma of the world cause that view is to die for. I've only hauled my butt up there on the bike twice. neither time clean and left portions of lung on the way.

The only thing I'd wish for would be more tight singletrack and more technical riding. Granted you have to make do with what you've got and bobcat tractors can hog out trail a lot more than nonexistent volunteers who are more busy blogging and bellyaching.

Kudos to the work they do out there. Wonderful park rangers who dig mountain bikes and mountain bikers and great local heros making the sport accessible to more riders.

Friday, January 02, 2009

This skills DVD looks interesting

I've always loved the skills aspect of mountain biking and enjoy any book or movie on the subject. Favorites have included
Mastering Mountain Bike skills
Ned Overend's book
One of my favorites, the out of print Single Track Mind. I was so bummed when I lost this book. Can't remember if I lent it to someone or just misplaced it, but I'd had it at my office and moved offices and then couldn't find it.

I just saw this DVD in Bike.
Fluidride:like a pro
It looks really interesting.

Of course reading a book or watching a movie or putting one under your pillow is going to improve skills. In movement sports that can only be accomplished by two things. Repetive movements and time. I've found that it takes up to 2-3 weeks for specific movements to become integrated as 'second nature' where you can implement them without having to think about it

The downside too, is that not practicing these movements regularly for me leads to a noticeable decrease in skills. Did the new years day ride. Cold and out of practice and feeling stiff and disconnected.

I'm a huge proponent of the better ride skills clinics and the basic practice routines Gene shows. My favorite is the endless drill. Basically just a figure 8. But this simple drill creates the muscle memory and integration of the body positioning, weight shifts, and hip twists that absolutely make or break your cornering.

Havent done it in months. It takes just a few minutes and can be done on any flat place.

Even my basic lofting of the front wheel skill is going to hell.

If I do these drills consistently about once or twice a week, I will notive a big jump in cornering comfort and downhilling comfort in about 2 weeks. It's just like something clicks, and can feel the balance during subtle shifts of the rear wheel as it drifts in a corner or slides off a wet root.