I’ve posted about a brazillion times about Endomondo because I think the tracking software is awesome – I was actually happy to buy the pay app just so I could contribute to the company.
For the longest time they went by a standard formula to figure calories burned for each sport, adjusted for speed. Correctly, I might add, the faster you go, the more you burn.
Now they’ve got a formula that takes into account activity, age, gender, speed, weightand heart rate.
The good news is that I’ll have a hyper accurate accounting of how many of calories that I’m burning… On the other hand, I’ve only ever counted my calories once – in 41 years of pumping air on this planet. I can use that information like I can use a hit in the head. I’m a pretty simple guy: Oh, hey, the scale’s going down. Time to eat more. Or Oh, hey, the scale’s going up, better make that Whopper a Junior!
Road Bike: $3,000
Mountain Bike: $650
Running Shoes: $125
Jammers, goggles and cap: $75
Cycling Clothes and Accessories: $1,250
Truck to transport all of that s#!t around: $8,000
Time devoted to getting into shape: 1 – 3 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Not having to kick the cat when the desert tray goes by?
What’s a brazillion you ask?
Donald Rumsfeld is in the Oval Office speaking with President Bush. Rumsfeld, speaking about the Iraq war, says “Mr. President, I have some bad news… Three Brazillian soldiers were killed today in the explosion outside the Green Zone”.
The President turns to Rumsfeld, visibly shaken… “Well that’s terrible”… “Hey, how many’s in a brazillion?”
Fan of President Bush or not, that one’s funny.
Yesterday’s club ride was not good for me. I thought one recovery ride would be enough for my legs to come back after a really stellar training weekend. I was wrong. My inequities, how should I say, were shining in their impressiveness last evening – yes, that’s a pretty way of saying I was not in top form.
After getting home from the office, I waxed my bike and got my supplies ready while the wax set up. I packed everything into the truck and went in to polish my bike up… Things were looking fairly good and I felt ready, though I did have that nagging “what if” in the back of my mind. Facing facts, I went at my training really hard on Saturday and Sunday. There were easy legs – my ride out to the running club was slow by normal standards and half of my 10k was slow too, but the longer ride back to the house and the last half of my 10k were done at my highest level. Sunday didn’t seem to be too tough with a 20 mile day on the fat tire bike, even though I knocked 21 minutes off of my last ride through the 13 mile trail, followed by a relatively fast ride looking for my wife and kids I really felt quite good after I was done… An easy and slow recovery ride on Monday, I figured would be just the thing to shake any cobwebs loose.
Oh my, no – that was not the case. We started off really easy to wait for everyone to get in line, a fair crowd but not as big as two weeks ago – and I was up front, where I most decidedly do not belong early on. We were two miles in before we even touched 20 mph, but it went crazy from there – by mile 4 we were up to 24 mph, and part of that was my pull. And that’s just about the time I blew up. My “want to” went right out the door. I dropped off the back and spent 20 seconds at 16 mph to catch my breath before picking up my pace. The next ten miles I maintained a steady 19.5 mph pace into a steady breeze, just waiting to catch the tailwind. When I turned the corner at 15 I could have sworn I saw somebody up ahead that I could latch on to so I gunned it. With a cross-tailwind I managed 21-25 mph over the next 5 miles trying to catch up (minus a stiff climb that I attacked as hard as I dare). The 21st mile is downhill so I kept a 22 mph pace through that before we got to some pretty steep climbs, and that’s where I reeled my guy in. I hung on to his wheel for a few minutes and then took a pull myself – he had aero bars so I figured he’d be ok. When I started my pull, he faded back – he must have been more gassed than I was (or he wanted to ride alone). I was off on my own again by mile 23.
I had decided after I chose to drop off the back that I’d be taking the short cut, knocking 3 miles off of my ride, because I wasn’t exactly feeling all that good at mile 5, I figured by mile 31 I’d be wrecked with 2 miles to go. By mile 25 and 26 I was starting to see-saw. I’d get up to 22 and hold that for a bit then drop down to 16, catch my breath and ramp the speed back up… That’s when some of the big dogs caught up with me (I’d taken the short cut). Matt and Mike and a few of the other guys, so I latched on with them for a bit. After crossing an intersection we worked our way up to 20, then 22, 24 and at 26 for more than half a mile – that’s when my proverbial wheels fell off. I dropped off the back, shut the GPS down and crawled for the 3/4’s of last mile. I know what the problem is – specifically. I know where my threshold is and I’m very good at riding just under it. The problem shows up when I have to ride at or above it… I’m only good for a few minutes before I have to back off. That’s exactly what happened.
In the end, I thought I’d done a lot worse while I was on my bike and judging by my overall average (19.3), but going back through the ride, mile by mile, I actually hung in there pretty good until I started to see-saw, and for the last 3/4’s of a mile. Surprisingly well actually – I’d bet the see-saw alone knocked a good three tenths off the overall average and I left another three tenths out there… But that doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely busted my ass to do it. I finished beaten up.
I’m not done yet though – this gets interesting!
When I pulled into the parking lot, Mike (one of the faster guys and one of the last guys I’d ever expect to offer some friendly advice) came over and said, “you know you didn’t have to fall off back there”. I told him that I just didn’t have anything left, that I’d busted my butt to catch one of the aero bar guys for miles – but deep down I now know he was right (sure didn’t feel like it then though). I had the ability, what I lacked was the “want to”. In response he offered another tidbit, even more unexpected; he said, “you just need to learn how to hide”… And when I asked him how he got so fast and how I could hide, he simply said, “I’m beat by the time I get out here. I already rode this morning and I worked half of the day. I just take short pulls and hang out in the back. As far as learning how to hide goes…” He just pointed at Matt and said, “he’s the best there is”.
And then Mike asked me if I wanted to join them on an 80 mile 4th of July ride. I must have splashed a little spittle on my shoes when my jaw dropped onto them.
So I’ll have 80 miles with my Yoda to learn how to hide.
A ride that I thought would end sucky turned out to be just the thing I needed, and it really went a long way in reinforcing my belief in the social aspect of cycling… And from the least likely of the forty odd people I’ve met out there. That was a really nice surprise.
Oh, and one other thought… Had I put too much weight on the manner in which I perceive other people I’d have missed out on some great advice and an invitation to ride with some really great guys – and just ended up with a sucky ride. I can withdraw and be an asshole because I think someone doesn’t like me, as juvenile as that reads (I can’t believe I actually typed it), as would have been the case with the way I misread Mike, but then I’d have missed the lifeline that he threw me – hell, I wouldn’t have been close enough to see it.
Live and learn grasshopper, live and learn. Talk about a full circle.
Workouts have been really willy-nilly for me the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I felt like I didn’t work hard enough – to many slow cruises, not enough hard efforts. Last week was the exact opposite – almost all hard efforts with the exception of one easier(ish) cruise. I’m certainly not sweating anything like an injury coming on, I feel great (or my approximation of great). Still, I absolutelydo notwant to end up with an injury. The reality is that my workout plan, or schedule if you will, has pretty much been pedal to the metal for the last year – go as hard as I can as often as I can for as long as I can – if I’m feeling sore or tired, change-up and throw in a recovery ride.
After reading a year’s worth of blog posts by real athletes over the last seven months, I know I’m “doing it wrong”, but when I mull over an actual workout regimen I would have to stick to I always come back to the same question: Why change?
I have no desire to compete, even though probably I could with a little more effort, time, energy and an easier job (two of which I don’t currently have – time and an easier job) – I can already kick the snot out of 80% of people who clip onto a bike if not more. The point is, if I’m already happy with where I’m at, why bother going any farther… I have no good answer to that, especially when considering the fact that I’m not single, nor do I have a desire to be.
That said, I do have to pay attention to recovery days if I’m going to continue riding, running and swimming on a daily basis. Last week I gave an all-out effort way too often, and I’m beginning to think that my recovery rides are too fast as well. For instance, my normal recovery pace is only 1-1/2 to 2 mph under my “race pace”. What got me off on a tangent was my ride yesterday. It really got me thinking about how I’ve been doing things. I was battling a steady 15 mph north wind on the way out and I knew I was riding hard tonight at the group ride, so I really took it easy… 15 mph into the wind, 18 with a cross wind and 23 with the wind at my back for an average of 17.8 mph…and even that was probably a little too fast. Either way, my legs are starting to come back after last week’s grind. Another problem is a lack of planning and the Tuesday evening ride really throws a wrench in the works – it’s on exactly the wrong day because if it’s my every other week Tuesday I have to take it easy on Sunday and Monday – and that, I don’t like. Otherwise, I have a tendency to go more by feel so I end up with weird weeks like the last two – either all off or all on and that’s just a little silly.
If that’s not bad enough and to add to the melodrama, riding with Tim the other day on the roads after the trails, if knocking 20 minutes off a 13 mile trail run wasn’t enough, I realized that I’ve morphed into something of a strong(ish) cyclist… While we were out looking for the ladies we were pushing it pretty hard to find them, but certainly nothing ridiculous, when we happened upon a few skinny tire road bike riders, full kit decked out, and blew by them on a series of rollers. I drafted behind a one of them for a minute just to be funny (mountain bike, cargo shorts etc), but when I went by I didn’t inch by – I tore him up… So that gets me to thinking that the way I am doing things isn’t so bad after all.
Truth be told, this crap is confusing every now and again. Ah well, it’s a good problem to have… I’m not injured, I don’t have any major aches or pains, and instead of sitting on the couch I’m worrying about how much is too much rather than how little is enough. I’ll take it, till I get this figured out.
I had a chuckle listening to my favorite radio station… “Would you like to lose weight by taking only one pill a day? We have too many pills to give away and not enough participants….”
No kidding. Would you like to cure your gout? It’ll cause your balls to fall off and your hair to turn purple. Where can I sign up for that? Want to cure jock itch? Assuming that you passed on the gout pills that will make your balls fall off (if you didn’t just give those pills a minute), you can luckily now have your jock itch cured at the expense of your heart, liver and kidneys! Woohoo!
You hear some of these commercials lately; “do you want to lower your cholesterol with only one pill? It’ll rot your gut, but you don’t need that small intestine anyway, do you?”
Hell, you can even have potato chips that make your sphincter leak!
Here’s a thought: Would you like to lose weight without taking pills?
Get off the freaking couch and move that ass! Nobody looks down on you like you think they do:
Hell, the vast majority of us – and by vast, I mean like 80-90 freaking percent of us – are cheering for you!
MOVE THAT ASS, and keep your sphincter in tact! WOOHOO!
Sorry, I don’t know what came over me… I suppose I just had to figure out a way to constructively use the word “sphincter” in a post.
Off of my awesome trail experience yesterday I managed to concentrate on exactly what I was doing right and where I could have improved. After crunching the data in my head this morning, I’m going to put together a series of short posts in five parts. Today’s first part will have to do with equipment, because that’s the most important and easiest to do something about.
I’ve written before, but I’ll reiterate, the three most important accessories besides the bike in mountain biking are (in this order): The Helmet. If you plan on riding on anything more than a two-track, you would literally be insane, stupid or single with no kids to attempt mountain biking at speed without a helmet (believe it or not I saw one guy out there yesterday – absolutely nuts). Falling is simply too commonplace, and on some of the steeper climbs, it’s easy to catch your tire and fall over backwards if your weight is too far back. Second in order of importance is glasses. If your trails are through wooded areas, as ours are – chances are you’ll be hit in the face by low hanging branches no fewer than 20 or 30 times every time you go out. Third is clip-less pedals and mountain biking shoes. The climbs and descents are more manageable when you’re not worrying about your feet slipping off of the pedals.
The most important piece of equipment for heavy trail riding is obviously the bike. We’re talking about technical mountain biking here, not rail trail riding – leave the hybrid at home if you plan on moving fast, you’ll need the wider tires. At the very least if you are on a hybrid, put knobby tires on it and watch for passing traffic. Otherwise, the major choices are:
Cantilever or Disc Brakes?
Cantilever brakes are cheap but don’t work as well as disc brakes. It’s not rocket science. If you can afford the disc brakes, you want them. I ride a standard issue Trek 3700 with plain old cantilever brakes – the better brakes are important, but not entirely necessary.
Full Suspension or Hard Tail?
The suspension question gets tricky. For straight dirt riding there’s nothing better than full suspension. Speed is your friend when mountain biking (within reason of course) and having front and rear suspension will keep the tires in contact with the ground more than only having front suspension. In addition, with no rear suspension, the rider has to absorb the bumps with their butt and back or their legs with their butt off of the saddle. On the other hand, if you’re going to be riding on rail trails or roads with your bike, the rear suspension will rob you of efficiency because some of the power to the crank will be lost on flexing suspension parts. If yours is going to be a multi-use mountain bike, get suspension components that can be locked out or a hard tail.
Gearing? Opposite that of the Road Bike, there are no points for bigger chain rings and smaller cassette sprockets. So called granny gears are good. In fact, many people do away with their biggest chain ring – you probably won’t need it except in extreme circumstances – I went through 22 miles yesterday and never once touched the big ring. This will change if you’re putting road tires on your mountain bike – you’ll need that 44 tooth big ring. For the cassette, 8, 9 or 10 speed, they’re all good, just make sure you get a few nice bigger rings in there for the lower gears, they make climbing a breeze! I’ve got 21 speeds on my 3700 – in 1st or 2nd gear I can climb hills with ease that would be very difficult to walk without grabbing tree trunks on the way up. Just be careful to keep your weight evenly divided if not a little forward – it’s easy to fall over backwards in those lower gears – lots of torque.
If you’re doing it right, at 11-12 mph on a decent trail you’ll be working just as hard as if you were cruising 18-19 mph on a road bike on incredibly bumpy/sandy/rugged terrain. Getting a spot to take a swig on a mountain bike isn’t the same as on a road bike where the roads are more than likely reasonably smooth. Camelbaks are good. Besides, your water bottles, being low to the ground, will get dust and dirt all over them. Of course, a little dirt never hurt anyone, but let’s not get too silly. Just watch your center of gravity with a Camelbak.
When it comes to knobs, bigger isn’t necessarily better. My buddy Tim runs Kenda Small Block 8 tires and he’s fast as hell. I still have my Bontrager Connection Trail 26″ tires that came with the bike (in ’08) and they’re great – again, with the smaller knobs and with a continuous strip in the middle for smoother road riding.
Show your hands some love with some good fingerless mountain gloves. Just make sure they’re padded; your hands, arms and shoulders will thank you for it.
That mainly wraps up the equipment. Clothing is a lot more laid back in mountain biking than road riding, so you really won’t have to sweat that too much. You’ll see everything from cotton tank tops and cargo shorts to full cycling kit. It’s rather up to you there. I wear a lightweight cycling jersey with cargo shorts over my cycling shorts (so I can carry my car keys).
Yesterday was about as good as they get. I slept in till about 6 am, read a few blog posts, wrote one of my own and started getting our normal Sunday breakfast together: Scrambled eggs with ham, toast with homemade blackberry jam and bacon (of course). While that was cooking I remembered to tell my wife that my running buddy Tim had asked yesterday if we all wanted to go riding out at the Island Lake State park. Mrs. BDJ agreed so I let Tim know we were in – the cool thing about Island Lake is that it’s huge and 100% bike friendly. We’ve got miles of paved trails, roads and a 13 mile double loop of highly intense mountain bike trail…
After breakfast I started loading everything up, the girl’s bikes in the back of my Escape, and put the rack on the back for mine and the misses bikes. We hit the road just after 12:30. Tim was supposed to bring his girlfriend so the ladies were going to ride the paved trails while Tim and I hit the trails. The backup plan, if Tim’s girlfriend didn’t show, would have me hanging with my girls while Tim hit the trails.
We got to the park right on time and I started getting the bikes ready. Tim and his girlfriend showed up shortly thereafter. A quick Snickers and we were ready to go.
We hit the trail hard right out of the gate. This was only my second time actually on trails and the last time I hit the dirt twice in the first three miles trying to keep up with Tim – he’s some kind of awesome on a mountain bike.
I wish I could have snapped a few pictures, but we were going too fast (imagine that). The last time I rode that trail I went down on two downhills – trying to keep up with Tim – the roots and rocks, and bouncing associated with each on a hard tail prove to be a lot of trouble for me. That was last August, I had only been riding seriously for three months, since I was a kid, about 27 years ago. This time around I was in much better shape and I’m A LOT more fundamentally sound when it comes to shift timing and I’m more comfortable throwing a bike around. Tim’s normal time around the trail is around 1:06, his fastest is around 58 minutes. Last August we did it in 1:29. This time around was an absolute blast, and FAST. On the hard tail so navigating the downhills was still a touch ugly (and slow), but this time I was a lot stronger and about ten pounds lighter – I caught back up on every climb. We made it through the 13 mile trail in 1:08. I knocked 21 minutes off of my first attempt (and didn’t fall down LOL).
On finishing, we headed down the paved trail to meet up with the ladies who had stopped by one of the lakes for a dip in the water. After about a mile and a half I came around a corner to see my youngest, a grin from ear to ear. We rode back the rest of the way together, both my daughters and my wife telling me about what a great time they had. They got in a little more than 5 miles – not bad for a five year-old…and Isabella, my oldest, stuck with Tim for the last mile, who proudly informed me on our arriving back at the car park that (according to Tim’s computer) she’d hit 16 mph on the flat – with a 20″ 6 speed mountain bike.
I have no doubt we’ll be heading back again soon, though next time I’ll be hanging with my wife and girls. I feel a need to be a part of that and the fact that we didn’t have more ride time together was the only negative of the trip.
We got home at about 4:30 and Mrs. BgddyJim got dinner together while I unpacked the bikes and all of our gear. On the menu was a fresh garden salad and slow cooker barbecue chicken quesadillas. Oh my, they were GOOD!
It just doesn’t get any better than that for a Sunday.