Sunday, December 26, 2010

I used to feel like this every day.

So I've had a cold for a while now. Chest cold. I planned to commute Wednesday, but the cold/cough said "hell no", and I drove. I felt miserable all day long at work.

You'd think 8 hours of sleep would be enough, but no. I slept 10 hours a night for the last three nights and managed to sneak some power naps in here and there.

A cocktail of medication makes me feel normal long enough to interact with others. One sudafed, some expectorant cough syrup, ibuprofen, a halls drop or five and a good hot shower makes me feel like a human again for a couple hours, and then it's all back to the cough and misery.

I probably just did myself a dis-service just now by lifting weights.

There was a time when I felt like this every day. back in those days I consumed a steady diet of cigarettes, mt. dew, and fast food. Exercise included picking up a play station controller. I would turn off my bedroom light, but not before looking at my old Cannondale road bike leaning on the wall opposite my bed and think "maybe tomorrow?" as my head hit the pillow.


Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm not training for an Ironman.

My cousin shared this on her facebook wall a few days back. I just got done lifting weights and laughed at myself in a monotone computer voice.

While I'm not training for an Ironman, I am training towards a cat5 time trial in MiddleOfNowhere, Nebraska this summer. At least with the Ironman, there is a TV crew on site to survey the damage the athletes do to themselves and maybe catch the athletes puking on camera.

(Yes, that's just a marathon, but you get the idea.)

I did a 1h25m ride across Lincoln's north side on Sunday, took the Superior Street trail from Havelock to Belmont, then rode down 11th street through Belmont across Cornhusker Highway.

I saw something beautiful between riding on Grandview Boulevard and North 11th street: there's only two stop signs between Superior and Adams street when heading south, and they're at the tops of hills.

Compare and contrast with S. 44th street, where stop signs impede forward progress at J and D streets, at the bottoms of hills. One has to stop at the bottom of a short and steep hill, put a foot down, look both ways for cars, then pick a foot back up and mash the pedals to climb a short and steep hill.

I would much prefer cycling on S. 44th street if I had to stop at the top of a hill (I'm going slow anyways), put a foot down, look both ways for cars, pick my foot back up, and then coast effortlessly down the hill.

I would be far less likely to puke on S. 44th if the street were just a little more bicycle friendly.

At 1:15 in this video, Portlanders explain that they changed the orientation of 19 stop signs to make it easier to cycle on the "Going Greenway":

Portland's Bike Boulevards Become Neighborhood Greenways from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

We could do that here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No matter what, you're always learning.

This has been a good week for me, cycling wise. I've learned a great deal about the world around me, how the bike handles with spiked tires and that some of my equipment does not play nice with other equipment.

It was pointed out to me Tuesday night/Wednesday Morning that Copenhagen is in Denmark and that they are referred to as the Danes, it is not in the Netherlands nor are its inhabitants called "Dutch". It's been 20 years since high school geography, and I'm pretty sure my old teacher would not be surprised at this catastrophic knowledge failure.

I assumed those folks were using studded tires to stay upright, but Chris H pointed out on my facebook wall:
I don't think any of those guys are running studs. There's a great video on youtube somewhere of a corner on a really slippery day. Almost everyone goes down on it.
And here's the video:

I could look down my nose at them and say "well maybe you should get some Nokians and that wouldn't happen", except I found out that even with metal studs in my tread that I will, in fact, fall on my ass.

We got some ice Wednesday night.

Yesterday morning I climbed out of the tunnel under 27th and Capitol Parkway and attempted to make the right turn before the building formerly known as the picnic shelter. The climb didn't involve any slippage of the rear wheel, I stopped thinking about the ice, and I leaned into the turn like I always did. Ouch.

I'm just glad nobody was there to see my fall.

I learned that pedaling on ice is one way to smooth your pedal stroke. If you tend to "mash" the pedals, the rear wheel slips a bit back and forth, even with my 106 stud Nokians. Take the pressure off the downstroke while concentrating on scraping the mud off the bottom and kicking your leg over the top of the pedal stroke, and the bike tracks true. I would imagine it's because of the more constant power delivery to the rear wheels.

I learned something about department store bike acessories: don't. Back in March I was in Target buying an inner tube for one of the kids bikes. They're 16" bikes and they're not interested in performance. I saw it sitting there, a Bell Free Fit 15 wireless computer for about nineteen bucks.

Wireless, does everything I need, and inexpensive. I bought it. It took all of 5 minutes to install and configure. It was a good deal at the time and served me well.

And then Daylight Savings Time happened. While I don't react well to the time change, I don't expect the computer to care one way or another. It was as if the computer went nuts. I was always going 33-34mph, even when stopped, on ice, into the wind, with the wind, etc. I changed the batteries and it still misbehaved. 

What changed? My headlight is on!

Turns out that being an analog electronic device, the cheapie computer is susceptible to interference from other analog electronic devices, including my Planet Bike Beamer 5 LED Headlight set to "blink mode". I put the computer in, turned the light to blink mode and it registered 33mph. Click the light to steady and it's zero.

I moved the headlight as far to the right as possible and ran it on constant mode for my ride home today. That seems to have fixed it. That simply means I'll probably need to recharge the headlight batteries more often.

So the cheap computer isn't a total loss, unlike my high school geography class.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Danes, alright? I learned it by watching the Danes!

It's snowing outside as I type this. I am riding my bike to work tomorrow. Am I crazy?

Half a million Copenhagenites couldn't be wrong:

No doubt a number of these Danes are riding on Nokian tires to keep the bike from slipping out from underneath their bodies.

I figure I could do the same:

I put 14 miles on them today. I have to say they aren't great at cruising along at 17mph on dry pavement. The bike doesn't feel as stable as I am accustomed to with [insert dry pavement-specific tire here]. The bike's responsiveness becomes sluggish. They don't like it when I lean the bike on dry pavement. They make a ridiculous noise not unlike a rusty chain on dry pavement.

I'm pretty sure the combination of carbide steel and bare concrete produces a number of high pitched whines, as I managed to scare dogs while riding with them on dry pavement.

If you ride studded Nokain tires on dry pavement, prepare to be disappointed.

However, a section of Lincoln's MoPac trail between 33rd and 35th streets was a 30 foot long skating rink on an incline. On any of the other tires I have at my disposal I'd probably be whacked out on [insert painkiller med here] and drooling on whatever dressing holds a collarbone in place.

When I get more confidence in my ability to ride on ice, I hope to resemble this Camaro, except with two wheels and a much quieter exhaust note:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two blocks on the Nokians

I installed the Nokians tonight. I also took the bike up and down my block just because.

The snow and gravel machine came with Specialized Borough XC 700x45 tires, designed to go everywhere with a flat center section and knobbed shoulders. I had them pumped to 85psi. The bike rode very smooth and relatively fast for a bike that heavy with those tires. I enjoy riding those tires on bike paths and gravel roads.

I have also installed some 700x28 Specialized All Condition tires on the bike. The light high-pressure tires made the heavy hybrid ride smooth as glass on bike trails.

The new 700x35 Nokians have 4mm knobs with carbide tipped studs across the center of the tire. I have them pumped to 65psi. The bike feels a little squishy and the studs make a lot of noise compared to the Boroughs. Cutting a u-turn in the street didn't feel right.

There's some snow on my street and I couldn't help but give them a little test. They bite down into the snow quite a bit more than the Boroughs.

I look forward to conquering the snow this winter.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Got my Nokians just in time...

I got some Nokians for the winter riding season and was totally stoked to give them a shot this weekend as I watched the snow blow up and down my street, but the weather wins. They're hanging on a hook in my garage, next to the bike they're going to be installed on tomorrow night.

For those who don't know, Nokians are tires fitted with carbide steel studs that provide enough static friction to keep a tire from slipping on ice.

I'm all for winter cycling, but my inner wuss decided to draw the line at wind chills approaching 15 below zero. I think I need to bound and gag that wuss, throw him in the trunk of my car and drive it off a cliff. This is a win-win scenario: I don't drive the car all that often and I dream about driving it off a cliff when I do drive it.

Instead, I chose to perform some weight training and ride the indoor trainer in summer clothes. If my heart rate monitor is to be believed, I burned 730 calories.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Weights and Measures

It's December 2010. I've decided to prep for a season of racing, even if I only do 2-3 events. I want to finish the 22 mile Yutan TT course in 1:05, which takes 8 minutes off my fastest time yet. Considering the times posted by others near my age, this is not impossible.

This goal requires me to exercise indoors during the winter. I'll be hitting the indoor trainer with greater frequency as the winter progresses. Right now it's weights.

There are a number of things I would rather do than exercise indoors, namely exercise outdoors. Lifting weights in a parka under a spotlight doesn't sound fun, I'll do it in my basement wearing a pair of gym shorts and an old tee shirt instead.

The weights are part of the Prep period, which I officially started yesterday. I did a couple of "tune up" weeks last month to see what I can handle going in this week. These first couple of weeks are low resistance, high repetition weights, designed to build tendons and ligaments in preparation for the heavier weights during the first 4 week base period, through to the end of January.

I'm choosing a "circuit" type workout during this phase so I can get the exercise done quickly while resting each muscle group before the next set. Rest the legs while working the arms, rest the arms while working the core, repeat.

I need to enlist the help of my better half soon so I can establish some heart rate ranges. There's nothing better than a stress test to measure one's anaerobic threshold. I need to know that for the indoor trainer work in January/February.  I've been estimating 168 beats per minute after my own observations.

That requires me to pedal indoors, staring at a door or a furnace.

All is not lost: I have some Nokian studded tires hanging in the garage, daring the snow to start falling. I can do my longer endurance rides in the limited sunshine we get in Nebraska this time of year.