Thursday, March 31, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Re my blog yesterday, I've had some issues with my lower back recently on the bike. I attributed it to everything BUT the bars I was running on my bikes, which in the end drove me up the wall. Finally, in a desperate act of a desperate man (ok a little over dramatic, but bare with me), I broke down and got a pair of riser bars.
Today was the maiden voyage of said bars, and I can honestly say I've never been happier. I decided to leave them wide (630mm), which is a challenge for the trails here. Getting used to passing through tight singletrack at speed was a bit hair raising, but I got the hang of it quick. The bike felt more stable (obviously-think tightrope walkers holding a long pole), and the handling was almost as sharp as it was with the flat bars. Mind you, the rise isn't huge, but isn't small either (about 1.5 inch I believe).
By far the most important aspect, though, was that my back didn't hurt. And I rode hard, real hard! I crushed all of my own theories regarding my back pain and seem to have solved the problem. I don't care if they look goofy, or get dirty looks from the "pure" race guys. In the end, I'm more comfortable. When I'm more comfortable I'm faster. When I'm faster it won't matter what my bike looks like becasue I'll be so far ahead of you, you'll never get a chance to see it anyway, so what the hell do you care what kind of bars I'm running!? Ok, ok, a little rant... :)
The workout today was suppossed to take place later this week, but I felt good and wanted to get it in on the mountain bike (which was today) so I went for it. Generally I'd do two intervals of 20 minutes at FTP on the road, but I felt good and went for 3x20 on the mountain bike. Since I don't have a power meter on my mtb, I went according to heart rate.
The ride wound up being about 2:30 in the end, with 60 mins of quality effort. Though it wasn't a "true" constant effort like it would have been on the trainer or on the road (though my HR did stay up the whole time, it's just the power that went from like 0-1000 watts and back again), I got a whole lot out of it. The effort is one thing, but if you can't handle your bike at speed on the dirt, descents, switchbacks, rocks, roots, etc., then what good is it anyway? Who gives a crap that you can hold X amount of watts if you can't stay upright? I think being fast on the mountain bike is all about finding that balance between power and skill. You could have all the power in the world, but without skill you ain't got shit.
I'll post some pics of the new bars and setup when I get a chance. I've also gotta add that the Sette Serum Elite carbon HT is one hell of a bike. It's not one of the "big name" brands (though I'm sure it's come from the same factories of some of those "big names"), but still kicks ass in every way. I crushed it on that bike today and pushed the limits. There was never a time when the bike failed to match any of my efforts. I honestly can't say that about every bike I've ever ridden, the majority of them being the "popular" brands. If you want a solid carbon HT frame for a good price, you won't be disappointed. www.settebikes.com
Monday, March 21, 2011
I've tried quite a few things to remedy the situation, including a proper bike fit, longer stems, higher bars, higher saddle, lower bars, lower saddle...you name it, I tried it. Almost.
It all started during the final laps of the six hour race I did at the end of last season. While the course didn't contain a ton of climbing, there were a few short and punchy climbs. Also, the loop was full of exposed roots and rocks (typical east coastness) that jarred me around like crazy on my aluminum hardtail. Being that this was the longest amount of straight time I'd spent on the mtb at one time, I figured the pain HAD to be a result of the jarring of a hardtailed alum bike (not to mention the fact that I ran my tires-with tubes-at 50psi! Suuuper rookie mistake! I've since changed both my bikes over to a tubeless setup).
I was dumbfounded. I started thinking of everything it could be: The hardtail; the rock hard tires; the bike fit; pushing too hard a gear on the climbs causing me to torque my back; Anything!
Then, last night, after another back aching ride (this time on my full carbon Sette Serum Elite hardtail), I realized something. Before I'd gotten both the aluminum hardtail I raced on and the Sette carbon bike this winter, I was riding an old Gary Fisher Aluminum hardtail 29er with riser bars...that's right, RISER BARS! Never once did I have any back issues, and I'd ridden that bike as a singlespeed for several rides of 5 hours. So, the "too big a gear" theory was blown out of the water because of the fact I had to strain my ass off to get up some hills-still, never a sore back.
As I thought more and more, I analyzed the setups of all the bikes, finding the biggest difference between the 29er and the others (besides the 26/29 inch wheels), as the damned handlebars! Since switching over to my 26inch wheels, I've been riding flat bars. No reason, really, other than the fact that they came with the bikes and perhaps subconciously, they also look cool and more aggressive, which may also have played a part in the decision-we all know that looks make the bike 20% faster!:)
So, after all that thought, I think I've solved the lower back issue. I swapped out my flat bars on the Sette for the same riser bar I had on my 29er. I'm hoping that some aspect of the risers will have me riding in such a way that won't compromise my back, and make it more comfortable to ride long-really, really long. There's nothing more frustrating than having your back give out before your legs and lungs.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I got out on the mountain bike yesterday, after a GREAT ride on Friday in 70+ degrees, and bonked the hell out of myself. It was only a short ride, but one of those where you forget to eat, forget to drink, and generally just wind up feeling like hell near the end. I got that "numb" feelig all over my body, and it was like I was riding on air. I never saw the spots, but damn if I couldn't wait to get off the bike.
Today is another ride, though I think I'm going to shorten it by a bit. My legs feel really heavy, and the last couple nights sleep hasn't been all that great. I'm getting the kind of tired that even coffee doesn't help with....
Monday, March 14, 2011
I went a little crazy on the food as well today. I'm down about 5 lbs in the last couple of weeks which is good, but I'm also eating like an animal. I'm not too concerned with my weight right now, as long as it continues to drop slowly. I have a knack for losing and gaining weight easily, so I'm not worried about being too heavy. The cool part as well has been that I haven't seen a decrease in my power on the bike. If anything, I'm getting stronger, though I won't be able to tell for sure until I do another bike test. I'm starting to get that "easy to ride fast" feeling, so that's a good indicator things are going accordingly.
This evening I spent a bit of time dialing in what is my training mountain bike. I'm fortunate enough to have a racing and training bike for this year, but being that they're two different brands, it's been a little difficult to set them up exactly the same. My race bike was fitted properly to me by my buddy Nelson, an awesome fitter and mechanic that's helped me out tremendously in all my cycling ventures. He keeps my bikes running strong when I can't figure out what the hell is wrong, and has me dialed in on that race bike so that it feels like a glove. The training bike is a little bit more difficult to dial in, but I've done what I can.
I swapped out a stem today to lengthen the cockpit a touch, which I believe will relieve some of the tension I've been feeling in my back after my long ride on Saturday. I have a habit of hunching over as I fatigue, as Nelson pointed out, and lengthening my cockpit (as it is on my race bike), will hopefully allow me to keep my back in a more neutral position, and get rid of the ache I get around 4 hours in the saddle. Fingers crossed it'll work!
So that's it for today. Easy livin' until I get back on the ball tomorrow. A little bit more structure than just layin' around doing nothing:).
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Yesterday was a LONG day on the mountain bike. I'm amazed at how quickly time passes when you're ripping on singletrack rather than just riding the road. Maybe it's just the boring ole roads here on Long Island, but man do the woods just suck time away-in a good way! Anyway, I spent a ton of time on the trails Saturday and enjoyed every last minute of it!
Today was a bit frustrating in a few ways. First, I had moved a client from yesterday afternoon to this morning, which in the end (at least she said) worked best for both of us. I got an afternoon free to ride my bike, and she got to spend more time doing whatever it is she does (still haven't figured that one out yet!). So, instead of getting my Sunday started early, as I would have preferred, I slept in a bit, farted around on the internet, and waited until about 10:30 to get showered and head in to the gym. After I'd gotten out of the shower, I checked my phone to see that she'd left me a messege, cancelling her appointment. I mean really!?! Fifteen minutes notice??? C'mon! So that was roadblock number 1...
Ok, so big deal, I though, I'll just start my ride earlier than I had thought. As I'm making my bottles and preppin my road bike for the ride, I notice that my bottom bracket is a bit "gritty". Not sure exactly when it started, but let's just say it was unrideable. Luckily, I had a spare bb in my toolbox. I swapped it out, only to find that the spacing wasn't going to match up with my piece of shit FSA crank (more on FSA later). Again, luckily, I had a spare crank laying around...
Right. So I'm all swapped out and ready to go. Another hour down the drain, but it was all good. I managed to get out and have a terriffic ride, enjoying the sun and warm temps. It might have been a good idea to wear toe warmers and some light cotton gloves, but I like to live dangerously and didn't. I was fine, albeit a little cool by the end of the ride.
Ok, so on to a bit of a rant...
Yesterday on the mountain bike (and just about on every ride since I've had the damned bike!), I had issues with my brakes rubbing. Nothing big, and not even close to enough to steal any power or rotational business, but just enough of a "squeak" to drive you nuts! Spending hours on end with a squeak is enough to drive you mad. The problem here lies not in the bike or the mechanic, but with Avid Elixer and their stupid design. I built up my race bike with Shimano brakes and have NEVER had any issues with them. For a cross country bike, they are smooth and have the perfect amount of "catch" in them, regardless of the conditions. They've never rubbed, squeaked, nothing! Perfection! The Avid's have been nothing but a pain in the ass. Squeaking all the damn time, and finicky as hell. They seem to need fine tuning after ever single ride! What's more, they are just TOO damn grippy for a cross country bike. There's really no need to have all that bite in anything but a true downhill bike. If I had the money I'd get another set of Shimano's. Way better brakes in my opinion.
Second rant (a bit smaller)...
FSA components suck! I've had an FSA crank I bought new a year ago that has given me nothing but trouble. The attatchment design is aweful, causing it to slip and develop play after hard riding. FSA=Failure to Stay Attatched. Horrible. The crank I swapped out today was an FSA carbon K whatever, and it will never see time on any of my bikes ever again.
With all that said, I've got a pair of "gently used" Avid Elixer 5 disc brakes and a beautifully functional FSA carbon crankset for sale. Serious inquiries only. :)
Solid week. Now time to drink a couple beers to celebrate.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Today I got back out on the trails. We got a LOT of rain through the night and in the morning making things in the woods SLICK! Some spots were as slick as ice, and others were just muddy and murky. Good for balance and handling skills for sure!
This weekend I really want to spend a long time on the mtb. I'm thinking of an epic ride for tomorrow, but still have to make sure everythin will work out. Regardless, I'm gonna spend some good time in the saddle, even if it's not "epic".
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I wanted to try this angle with the Epic Cam for a while now, but kept on forgetting about it. Caution: if you're speakers are turned up, turn them down! There's a bit of cluttery noise on this one! In the future if I use this mount again, I'll have to chuck the camera up on a piece of small rubber. I think that'll absorb some of the chatter and give a more solid vid. Also, whenever I learn to edit in a soundtrack, the noise won't matter-I have a degree in FILM PRODUCTION for God's sake!
Anyway, today's ride was RAD! Yeah, I said it, RAD! We got a TON of heavy rain yesterday and trails were super grippy. A little slow in sections that were still sloppy, but great nonetheless. Today was also the first time the entire trail was ridable. I didn't have to dismount once over close to 30 miles of riding for snow or deep mud....made the lap times much much faster to say the least.
All in all it was one of those days that I could have stayed out on the bike forever. I felt like crap when I started, but after the first hour things started to come together. Love when that happens! Now it's time to eat and put the legs up... Maybe a nap?:)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
It's no coincidence that my training has gotten better since the weather has started to break for the better. I'm NOT a winter guy. I used to be, but the snow really puts a damper on me. When I have things to do in the winter (i.e. spend time with Anne cross country skiing), I'm just dandy, but I don't exactly live in a "winter paradise", and Anne wasn't here with me all winter-only for a couple weekends at the end of January. Put this all together and I've got a recipe for low-motivated, slogging training that has me just going through the motions. Anyway...
Like I was saying, this week was another that absolutely ROCKED! The weather continues to grow warmer, and the trails are finally ridable on a consistent basis-muddy, but ridable. I was able to log more time on the mtb than I have in months, and topped it all off with a 2 hour and 45 minute ride Friday, a close to 5 hour ride on Saturday, and then a nice easy (ok, it was hard a lot of the time!) 2 and a half hour ride today. I easily could have gone for more today, but (and in a lot of ways this is actually a good thing) rains moved in pretty heavy and put the ride to an end just when it needed to.
All in all things are really feeling like they're coming together. I've got to work on hashing out a race schedule. As I'm not quite sure where I'll be and when I'll be there, it's a bit tough to make decisions now, but I'm sure it'll all come together soon enough. Plenty of racing out there to do!
Tomorrow is off and I NEED it! I'll get in some light stretching and other recovery stuff, and be ready to return to kickin' ass and takin' names on Tuesday.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Ok, cheesy 90's hiphop reference aside, I had a great FTP interval session today. With the sunny skies beeming and the cool crisp air outside, I headed into the "dungeon"-my new makeshift workout room/old bedroom (I've been sleeping in my guest bedroom recently)-and hopped on the trainer. As much as I've HATED any indoor training since I got involved with riding bikes, running, and swimming, I see so much value to be had in doing this particular session inside. Because it's so important to me to increase my FTP, this session has big time priority and I will make every effort to make sure it's done to the letter. It'll pay off when I'm tearing people's legs off this race season:). Being able to focus at the task at hand and not worry about cars, lights, wind, or changes in the road (see: hills) really allows me to cut the fat from this session and simply do the work.
I love the simplicity of this workout. Basically, ride hard for a period of time, rest a bit, then repeat. I can't say I always look forward to it, but with each time I do it I get stronger and stronger, makng holding my watts easier and easier. Sure it's usually difficult in the beginning, but by the middle of the first interval I usually settle in and make a home in the bit of suffering that goes along with it. Even when it gets hard you know in the back of your mind that you do have that little extra, and that, at least for me, gets me through it.
And then there's the recovery shake! I've been playing with different combos of "homemade" shakes lately, and have been going with 16oz of O.J. mixed with a scoop of vanilla whey protein, and 10 grams of glutamine. Creamsicle...MMMMM! Today though, I went with 2 cups of 1% milk, half a cup of instant oats, a tblspoon of peanut butter, 1/3 scoop of whey protein (just what was at the bottom of the bag), 2 tblspoons of cocoa powder, and my 10 grams of glutamine. This was the BEST one I've made in a while! More cals than the O.J. mixture, and smoother than just chocolate milk. I'll have to remember this one for sure after my longer rides this weekend.
Tomorrow I'm planning on doing a bit more mountain biking. I'm meant to do a long mtb ride Saturday, but the weather's most likely going to be more favorable tomorrow. I've got some time to fit it in, so likely I'll do it then. Not that I'm a wimp about the weather or anything, but after dealing with all the cold and crappy conditions that this winter brought, it's nice to spoil myself and get out to warmer, sunnier skies. I think I've earned it!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Deviated from the plan again today and got in another solid day on the mtb. I'm absolutely LOVING my new carbon Sette Elite, but opted today to stick with the Trek-no need in thrashing the race rig this early in the year!
Riding today made me realize how fit I was last year. The same trails I rode today that made my legs scream were a breeze to ride at the end of the fall. I've got some work to do, and it starts this weekend with a nice long day on the mtb Saturday. I honestly CAN'T WAIT to get on the mtb for a LONG time this weekend...it's been too long!
No pics of vids for today, sorry. My camera's battery died 15 minutes into my ride! Guess I've been using it too much:)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
First of all, what the hell is that? If you look closely...it's a leg...small cat or dog methinks:).
www.vimeo.com/20531035 (Check here for the vid...stupid blogger didn't upload it even though I spent 45 minutes waiting...)
Superb day today! The trails were 98% ridable today so I just went for it. In reality, though I've done some other riding on the dirt the last couple weeks, this has been the first "real" ride where I did much more riding than hiking. The conditions were awesome, minus the fact that there was a TON of debris on the trail. At some points it looked like a tornado had blown through.
The video is kind of long. You'll have to excuse my lack of technical skills too. I'm trying to figure out how to put music to these vids. In the mean time you'll have to deal with the beautiful "sounds of nature":).
As for the camera mount today, I'm again a little disappointed. I used the helmet mount ziptied to the handle bars. It worked on the roads great, but I'm thinking it's not going to cut it for the off road stuff. The nature of riding the trails means much more handlebar movement, not to mention bike movement. As you can see it gets a little nauseating sometimes. There are good shots though, which is why I posted it, but expect them to be better in the future. For right now, I'm leaning toward riding with the camera mounted on my helmet for the most part, unless I find a cool place I want to mount the camera on the frame (i.e. chainstays and such).
Anyway, that's it for today, just a solid ride in the woods. I'd like to be disciplined and stick to my plan for the week, but I'm not so sure I can with the trails being availible again. I might have to take this week as a "reintroduction to mountain biking skills" week. Yeah, that's cool, right?