Cycling season 2016 is officially over next Tuesday, our night ride.
To fit last evening’s ride in we had to start at 5:00 on the nose, no warmup.
We had a fantastic crowd, considering. My wife and I rode, along with my friends, Mike, Phill, Chuck, Chuck, Mike and Diane on their tandem, Karen, Gary, and Jonathan.
We set a fair pace but that lack of a warmup really made it tough. I struggled for the first ten miles but oddly, only when I was at the front. I took my lumps of course, but I was always huffing and puffing by the time I went back to hide again.
Karen dropped first and my wife went with her so she wasn’t alone. If I had to guess, this was about eight to ten miles in – and what intrigued me about the fact that she dropped was how she was riding…. she was all over the place in the pace line, off to either side rather than in the draft. This is a pet peeve of mine, but more on that in another post.
We kept it to a fair 21-22 mph and it was a wonderfully paced ride. Nothing too difficult but hard enough. Coming into Shiatown we pulled off to the side of the road to wait for Gary who had struggled through the hills and fell off the back.
From there, we’ve got a nice little quarter-mile descent followed by a steep-ish climb that settles down into another half-mile of up but at a milder grade. After we crest that, it’s a slight downhill for almost a mile and a half where we keep it pegged, normally, between 26 and 30 mph. Last night we were dealing with a bit of a headwind so the speed was a bit more subdued, if harder to hold at the front – and I was up there. This is always a tricky spot for me. In that mile and a half we’ve got our first sprint heading into Vernon. Normally I like to be about four back – this gives me a great draft but I’m not so far back that I have to weed through a bunch of other guys going for it as well. Where I don’t want to be is up front. I took my mile turn and headed back for a quick recovery. I did a couple of trick breathing exercises to clear the CO2 and waited for my spot… My timing was perfect and I shot around the front at 32 mph. When I was sure I had a good gap I checked over my shoulder and sat up for the last 40 feet or so.
Gary had fallen off the back again and Chuck went back for him (that’s the guy on the left in my header photo). Gary was alright with riding alone and sent Chuck back to us… just two miles up the road he joined back up with us huffing like he’d been pulling a dragon behind him.
Fast forward, passing over some boring miles to the final sprint of the season……
I was caught out front yet again, because I can be stupid that way sometimes, leading into the last two miles. Again, I didn’t want to take a sissy pull up front to rest so I settled in for a mile to try the same thing I’d done just ten miles earlier. Out of nowhere I see Chuck’s wheel on my left shoulder and he’s charging hard. I figure he’s going to make an early move so after three-quarters of a mile up front I had to jump onto his wheel. He created a substantial gap at 26 mph and just twenty seconds into his charge he arm-flicked out. He set me up (that what I think anyway, we still had a quarter-mile left to the sprint). Rather than try charging on alone I waited for the group because I was fairly smoked. I’d spent a lot of tough time up front and if I tried to stay off the front I’d have been swallowed up by the pace line well short of the finish. The group caught me and I assumed my position about four guys back and tried to recover my breathing. The launch was just around the corner. Ten seconds… Five… Three – Two – One…
I jumped out of my saddle and gave it everything I had but the second Chuck was watching for me in his little helmet mounted mirror – he was only a half-second late starting his charge. We flew by everybody else and I was putting every ounce of push I had left in my burning legs into getting the pedals around. Chuck matched me perfectly… I tried to dodge around him to the left but I just didn’t have enough to make it around him. He was too strong and I crossed the line just behind him. It was a fantastic finish to the season.
As we made our way to the parking lot it was all high-fives and fist bumps, laughs and tales from another fantastic club season…. This has been my most enjoyable season to date. It just keeps getting better, so I can’t wait to see what next year holds. One thing is for certain though, if I’m going to enjoy it there won’t be any time for vacations. I want to be even stronger next year – and that’s a good enough goal.
There are enough theories on how one should weigh themselves when they’re in the process of trying to shed unwanted poundage that a multi-Billion Dollar industry could be formed in the USA alone. Oh, wait, that has happened!
I’ve never really watched my weight too much. I know when I get down to my last belt hole that I’ve got some work to do – or say mid-winter when my suits are fitting a little bit snug. Either way, when you’re putting in between 5,000 and 8,000 miles a year on a bicycle (or four), weight doesn’t really have much of a chance to get away from you. However, I have an ideal cycling weight and I used to think that was about 165 pounds… then my wife bought me a new scale and I was instantly almost ten pounds heavier. Imagine my horror. I went from 172 to 181 overnight.
I wrote nothing about this on the blog, I just went to work. I know the culprits to cut out. I know where to trim calories and I know what else works:
Over the next two months I set about dropping the weight on the new scale back to 172, and let me tell you, I had to be hungry to do it – this was right in the heart of the summer… Cycling season where I’m averaging about 950 miles a month. I would weigh myself before I got in the shower, and during cycling season I’m taking two showers, maybe even three, a day (they’re exceptionally short, just enough to knock the stink off of me, three to five minutes). That meant I was weighing myself a couple of times, even three times, a day. I noticed a pattern develop over the summer.
I was heaviest in the morning, and I’m going to simply assume you can figure out why. By the time the afternoon rolled around I was three pounds lighter (let’s say one’s body starts working well with a lot of exercise). After a ride, another two lighter (that was sweat). I knew the right weight – the one in the middle.
There was one day in particular that I threw watching what I ate to the curb and pigged out – just one in those months, and the next afternoon I weighed the same 172 pounds, my target weight. The next day I went up to 173 and the following I was up to 175. It wasn’t a fluke either. The day after that I was up to 176… It took three days for that pig-out to hit the scale and two weeks to get it back down.
If I hadn’t been hitting the scale on a twice-daily schedule, say once a week, I could have missed the pig-out hitting my once well-toned posterior. This is a flaw in the “weigh yourself once a week” theory. Say I have an eating problem (I don’t have a problem, I love food) and my weigh-in day is on Saturday. I pig out on Friday, call it a “weekly cheat day” and hit the scale on Saturday. My weight’s going to show up normal. Now, what’s the average overweight person going to think? “Awesome! No harm, no foul!”
The next Friday rolls around and it’s “cheat day” again. Nom, nom, nom… I hit the scale and I’ve only gained three pounds – but I haven’t. I’m six back because I’ve got some reserve fuel in the tank, three pounds worth. The next Saturday I’m six pounds (nine actual) and the dejection begins. From there I could definitely imagine a morbid sense of failure and a relapse into old behavior… because that’s exactly how it worked when I got drunk, yet again.
I’d swear off alcohol for good, yet again (before meetings and a program were a “thing” in my life). A week later something would pop up and I’d think, “Oh, I’ve been good all week, certainly I can have a few beers at my cousin’s wedding. All will be fine“. A couple of weeks later and I’m doing shots in the morning again to keep the shakes at bay and I don’t know how I got there or how I’ll dig myself out of the hole again.
Recovery and weight loss aren’t much different in that respect – and the only thing that I’ve found that works on my weight are a bicycle and the light of day, or honesty. Pure, unpolluted, unadulterated honesty. Choosing to only look at the scale once a week is a way for me to hide from reality the other six. That is honest.
It may not be your honest, but it’s a good idea to shed the light of day on it before you decide how to proceed. Just sayin’.
Dude, I’d like to thank Granny B for the best damn pumpkin seed recipe ever thought of, bar none.
Clean your pumpkin seeds and place them on a cookie sheet as you normally would. Then cut pieces of bacon into little chunks and place over the seeds. Then bake till the bacon is rightly done.
Seriously, dude. Bacon. Flavored. Pumpkin seeds.
The candy of meat meets the candy of seeds (and Halloween). And no…. it’s even better than it sounds. Trust me.
Cycling, Overall Miles, Ride Miles, Enjoyment and Weight Loss; What Matters and More Important, WHEN.
I was sitting on the couch, watching the Lions football game, trying to figure out how to put what I have rolling around the hamster wheel in my melon into a post….
I spent the weekend listening to a few explanations of why it is I’m so lucky to have found cycling and that I enjoy it so much (never mind my running phase before that where it was more about necessity than enjoyment, but let’s not spoil the narrative).
If I think about, I believe I’m at a point where my mile count doesn’t matter so much. I believe I could go all next year without logging a mile that I’d ridden and still end up within a handful of miles of where I’m at this year. The numbers aren’t the motivation anymore. The ride is.
There once was a time that this wasn’t the case. The increase in mileage and average speed, and therefore fitness, spurred me on to try even harder. This love of data created a compound effect, the result of which completely changed who I was as a person.
My diet improved and I rid myself of stupid calories. I cut portions down and learned how to manage my weight so I could be faster. I also learned that the faster I got, the easier it was to manage my weight. In other words, there was a confluence of awesomeness that came together that showed me how I work.
It all started with tracking data.
This isn’t to say I’m perfect, ultrafast and super-thin. I’m not. I’m just healthy, pretty fast and happy.
That’s the trick, really. I don’t have to train hard enough to injure myself because I think pretty fast is really awesome. I don’t have to cut out pizza and burgers because I actually need the calories (I just have to be reasonable about what I eat).
So there I was, out riding with my friends yesterday and it was almost perfect. A light breeze, mid 50’s for a temperature, obviously sunny; in fact the only way it could have been better was if my wife was in there (she was dropping her sister off at the airport)….
…and that’s exactly when I realized I don’t need anymore data. I don’t need any motivation beyond wanting to get out and ride – with my wife and friends, my wife, or just by my lonesome.
I made it because I found a reason to keep going back out on my bike. What was important was that data. Everything grew from that.
In recovery we have a simple saying, “Keep coming back until you don’t have to”. The punch line is that once you “don’t have to”, you’ll want to.
This is how it works in fitness and exercise. I simply kept coming back until I didn’t have to. Now that I want to, I can’t imagine a productive, happy life without a bike.
I started this year certain I couldn’t possibly pass my 2015 total mileage. I have two kids, my business… ’15 surely had to be a fluke at 7,600 miles.
Cycling on a daily basis is an exercise in learning to fit my ride in. The summertime is easy because we put the kids’ extracurricular activities on hold, but come September we really have to juggle things around to make them work. I take the kids and my bike to swim practice on Monday. My wife takes them Tuesday. I’m back with my bike on Wednesday and my wife takes Thursday. Friday, I ride with my wife and the weekends are always long mileage affairs.
One thing is for certain; I manage to fit it in. No matter what.
This morning we’ve got a 45 mile ride planned and God willing, I’ll surpass my total from 2015… In October.
Not that seven or eight thousand miles are a big deal, I know plenty of guys who regularly clock ten thousand or more. What I like about being able to fit in around 8,000, I mean beyond being fantastically fit, trim and healthy, is that I’ve done it with a fair bit of balance, and without getting too nutty.
Though I haven’t figured out the important word in that last sentence, too or nutty.
Coming up on the close of my sixth year on two wheels, I’m well into my second trip around the planet, at better than 34,000 miles. It’s amazing how they pile up.
Done! 7,622 Miles.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary: The Definition of Satisfaction. Maybe not for the Rolling Stones, but You can Definitely get Some.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary defines the word “Satisfaction” thusly:
What you get during and after a bike ride. Cycling comes with a euphoric feeling, that everything is right in the world. It is awesome.
When one fully embraces cycling for the awesome sport it is, one cannot escape the satisfaction that often comes with anything from another fantastic effort, to your doctor saying “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it”. When you ride a bike, this is what you get. If you work for it.
The Transformation of a Road Bike, From Purchase to Perfect (or as close to perfect as I can afford at the moment): What to Worry About When Upgrading a Bicycle (and What not to).
Here’s what’s different: Wheels (Vuelta Corsa SRL hubs and spokes with Velocity rims because the Vuelta’s hoops were crap), S-Works Aerofly handlebar, S-Works Crank, Blackburn carbon bottle cages, Specialized cycling computer, FSA carbon wrapped aluminum stem.
Original weight 18.8 pounds. Weight today, 17.2 pounds. The bulk of the weight savings came in the wheels (a pound) and the crank (3/4 pound-ish), though the stem helped a bit as well too (90 grams) and if I want to drop another $2,000 I can take that overall weight below 17 with a decent set of carbon fiber wheels.
The stem/handlebar were lowered by 10 mm. The reach of the Aerofly handlebar is 5 mm less that of the original bar. Stem length and rise are identical between the old and new stem.
The saddle nose was dropped to level to allow for the lowering of the stem. Originally, the saddle was leveled tip to rear but that produced too much pressure where I don’t like pressure. Ahem.
The new wheels roll immensely better than the original wheels. The crankset is vastly superior to the one that came with the bike. The stem? Meh, it looks a lot cooler and 80 grams is 80 grams. The handlebar seems to cut down on road chatter quite a bit but the weight savings were minimal – basically I bought the bar because it looks really cool.
Long story, shorter; I dropped another $2,000 on top of the purchase price to make my bike a pound and a half lighter, look cooler and roll just slightly faster.
The S-Works crankset was absolutely worth every penny. We’re talking a night and day difference. Had it to do over again, I’d buy the set again – and knowing what I know now, I’d pay 50% more. Seriously. The wheels were worth what I’ve got into them (though I’d opt for a more expensive set, hindsight being what it is).
The cheap cycling computer does everything I want it to do, which is not much. Current speed and distance traveled. Throw in that I’ve got average speed and high speed features and an odometer (11,000 miles) and I couldn’t ask for more.
I had the top-rate Body Geometry fit done at the shop where I bought the bike and if I’d have paid for the three hour session, that would have been worth every penny too – even if the only thing that came out if it was lowering the saddle by 2 millimeters (kinda cool, considering I did the initial set-up).
So I’ll get to the point. That’s a $5,000 bike the way it sits. Give or take. Does the extra $2,000 matter over, say an equally appointed Tarmac, or $2,500 for a Venge Elite (which has everything my Venge has except decent wheels and the S-Works crankset) or even $3,000 to go with a top of the line Allez Sprint Expert?
Here’s the trick: I had the money. I paid cash for everything, right down to the bottle cages. My bike is vastly superior to the one I brought home because of the wheels and crankset… but the difference could have been made up for with “want to”. It all comes down to what I can afford and being happy with what I’ve got.
There is a difference between the Shimano 105 and Ultegra lines, but not enough that it would matter if you don’t know any better. Sure, there’s a difference between an aero frame and a standard round tube frame, but not enough a person couldn’t hang in a group.
The only hitch in the giddy up is the wheels. Good wheels matter. A lot.
Let me illustrate it this way:
I’ve got three club rides this year north of a 22 mph average. All three occurred with the Vuelta/Velocity Wheels on the bike. However , two were on the Venge and one on my 17 year-old Trek 5200 that was built long before aero bikes were a thing and weighs four pounds more than the Venge… I swapped out the cassettes and wheels. The aerodynamic advantage didn’t matter. Sure, I absolutely had to work a little bit harder (and yes, it was enough to notice), but it wasn’t so much I couldn’t hang.
“Want to” goes a long way, baby.
To wrap this up, a good bike is worth the moola. They’re fast, quiet, sturdy and smooth. The expensive bikes absolutely ride better that their cheaper siblings and they are definitely marginally faster… and the more you spend, the better they usually are.
That said, as budgets go, I’m better off with a decent bike and a great set of wheels than a great bike with crappy wheels. So if you have to worry about a budget, remember this simple formula if you’re going to ride a lot and/or fast: Shimano 105 components or better (that’s the base race quality drivetrain), the best wheelset you can afford (and they most likely won’t come with the bike), then spend what you’ve got left on the rest of the bike.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary defines “Fit” thusly:
What riding a bicycle makes you. Ride enough, becoming fit is inevitable. See also Healthy, sexy, Awesome.
I wrote a post in my sixth day of writing this blog and it was a doozy. Sadly, nobody saw it because nobody in the community knew me. Back then, I maybe had six or eight people who read my blog.
Humorously, I’d forgotten I wrote the post myself… Then Shay-lon stumbled on it and left me one long, well reasoned, and passionate comment on the post. In that comment she suggested I reblog it to get it out there…
The post, before you read it, is a bulldozer for myths about exercise. Please check it out:
Exorcising the Myths of Exercise… – http://wp.me/p248iZ-1m
1. Fit people are “lucky” to be that way.
2. Running is bad for the knees and joints.
No it isn’t. And I’ve used that one myself….
3. Low impact exercise is better than running or “high” impact exercise.
That isn’t true either, though I’ve used that one too….