America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

Friday, February 29, 2008


I am stoked with adrenaline for this Sunday's event. Although.. It suck balls racing in the cold, even if it's a mild 38-40 degrees. To those who wondered, yes I've been stretching very carefully before my big effort rides, for a few weeks now. I've always stretched before racing. Stretching before a 3 hour endurance ride is new to me though. I always thought it was more important to stretch after such a ride, than beforehand. The insoles I installed recently seem to be helping too, though I don't like that my shoes are now kind of snug. I am due for a new pair I think.. I've had my blue DMTs since summer of 2005. They're a little tired, and on their fourth set of Speedplay cleats.
Sunday.. I can't wait. How many days before cross season begins?.. Not nearly enough, I'm afraid..  

Ronde de Bethel

After much painful contemplation, I decided to test my legs at Bethel this weekend instead of at Ninigret. My reasoning was pretty simple- Bethel isn't a training race. It has actual USAC "race value". Not to say I don't love thrashing myself on the 'ol airstrip with the coarse grained glass impregnated chip/seal of Ninigret Park.. But seeing that I can take the family out to CT, visit with some old freinds of ours after the race and such, it was a no-brainer. One thing I notice about Ninigret in the winter- it's awfully depressing and desolate. Oh well.. Bethel here I come! I'll be joined by team mate Scotty Sullivan. We don't have our new uniforms yet- those are still two weeks out, but I'm hopeful that we can both make our mark this weekend. I have 120 hours and 1800 miles of base under my belt since mid November.. and while it's true I'm in the middle of a four week build, I'm just dying to test the legs in 'combat'. I expect to build confidence from a strong performance Sunday, but anything can happen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Clue! A Clue!

"We are gonna play blue's clues, cuz it's a really great game! Yeah!" Get out your handy dandy notebooks because I might have figured out why my left knee is being such a pussy lately. But first, lest we forget.. Keep the barf bag handy before clicking. Lots of this stuff over there:
Below are exhibits 'A' and 'B'.

Above, notice the damage which was done in the Bob Beal Criterium crash of 2007. The pain I feel [on rides over 3 hours] occurs between 3 and 6 o'clock relative to the scar's position. Sometimes it feels like I can put my finger right on the spot that's injured or overused.

Below, left cleat of my shoe with a suspiciously extended float limiter. With the screw extended so far towards center, my heel's movement to the outside is quite limited. In contrast, the right cleat has quite a bit more float in it, in both directions. As you can see the crash has shredded the cleat a little bit and possibly spun that limit screw to where it shouldn't be. I never noticed it until tonight.. that my left foot had such a small amount of float, that is..

So what are the odds that my crash injury and my cleat abnormality have been contributing to this knee pain and weakness? Why is my right knee fine and dandy.. even though I sometimes nurse the left and lean harder on the right? Maybe it has nothing to do with miles or intensity or hours or cadence. Maybe there's simply something out of whack in there because of the crash, and maybe it's compounded by the limited float of the left cleat- which is something I should have noticed- dang. I'd never put the two shoes side by side until tonight, when I noticed the odd position of the limit screw.. Hmmm....
Tonight I installed some new insoles- the kind you heat up in the oven. Made the shoes feel a little tighter, but the arch support is wonderful. My arches have been floating in mid air for a long time and I think it's been a real drain on my leg strength. These insoles have a "Tempurpedic effect" meaning that every square centimeter of my foot feels like it's supported equally. They also gave me something close to what I would have achieved with LeWedge. Let's see how it goes with tomorrow night's intervals..
Changed the Powertap hub batteries tonight and did a little 45 minute spin. Good times.
Funny new catchphrase overheard on Sunday's smackdown: "ten-speeding". Makes you LOL don't it? How about the old term "English Racer"? which in the 70s.. meant any bike with giant 27" wheels and drop handlebars. The epitome of coolness in the eyes of a 12 year old.. Having an English racer made you the shit in my neighborhood (which was College Point- a part of Queens, NY) An older friend of mine gave me his old yellow Atala when I was 13.. and as Paul Harvey would say, "now you know the rest of the story.."
Have a GREAT day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

3:40 and time to replace the 357s

No reference to marijuana or firearms in that title..
3:40 is the duration of Sunday's ride.. which also included team mates Joe, Scott, and Michael plus the "older Adam" and Kip. All good men and a pleasure to ride with. I rode to Prov Bike for a 9:45 intercept and we took off from there into western RI. A nice tempo ride for much of the time.. we took it easy on occasion and other times we throttled it full gas up some of the rollers.. Good times were had by all.. No crashes and no flats.. and we rode over lots of ice and snow!
The batteries used by the Powertap hub are No 357s- two of them are in there, both dead, which makes sense since they're rated to last 2500 miles and I just turned 5300. It did record data intermittently but was kaput by the time I got home. Yeah the knee hurt some more after I completed the 3rd hour. Was also tight for the first 20 minutes.. It's quite vexing to NOT KNOW what the fuck the exact problem is in there. I need to see a specialist and don't know where to begin. Maybe I should ring my PCP and get a referral. Otherwise I'm going to try seeing an A.R.T. (active release technician) That and I also need a root canal, for a tooth that supports my bridge.. again. Last time the surgeaon drilled right through the bridge and patched it back up. Yeah, when-it-rains-it-pours. Have a fine Monday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Acutely Chronic.. ?

Treated myself to a one hour massage today.. during business hours no less- I signed out of the office for a "dr appt".. Went to see a therapist I've used before and who I trust. He's been doing it for 25 years and knows his stuff. Spent a lot of time working on my knee with massage, hot stones, steaming hot towels, good stuff. Put me through a lot of stretching positions and in the end he said that if my knee was seriously injured, some of the ranges of motion he put me through would have hurt pretty bad. Not to say that this isn't serious it certainly is, but it's bigger in my mind than anywhere else. Did a one hour zone 2 spin tonight.. Knee felt tight and weird for the first 1/2 hour.. and then once it was warmed up it felt fine, it disappeared. This weekend's program calls for 3 and 4 hour rides.. and I'm not sure if I will do them. If I do, it needs to be on flat unchallenging roads.. If that means doubling back and forth on the Cranston bike path, so be it. As of this date, I've done more 3+ hour rides in 2008, than I did in ALL of 2007. So I need to cut myself a break here, stop beating myself up about going "too hard". I'm not convinced that I injured myself using low cadence. It's true on the more challenging rides I have some very frequent and difficult climbs where I hold back and avoid injury by putting it in my next to smallest gear (39x21) and go over them as easily and as slowly as I possibly can. Yes this means the cadence drops to the 70s- but it's because I'm trying take it easy, not because I can't scream over them at 110 RPM if I wanted to!! No- I injured myself with an abundance of long rides. Regardless of cadence, I'd be hurting just the same right now. Spinning 10 rpm higher over the hills would not have saved my knee, it would have hurt me more. Stretching for 1/2 hour before each of those rides would have been the smart move, as suggested by SB and his alter ego Nega Coach..
During my spin tonight I played around with rotation of my foot on the pedal and found that rolling my shoes to the outside of the pedal/lifting the arches gave a weird sense of relief. Could be all in my head, but I think that Lemond might be onto something with his "LeWedge" cleat enhancement. I might try these with my next cleat replacement, which will be soon. Additionally, I want to try some remedial insoles- the kind with the self-applied knobs underneath. Sometimes it feels like my shoes are giving me too little arch support, like my arches are just floating and tiring out my whole foot/ankle setup. Any experience out there with insoles (over the counter and custom) or LeWedge??
I believe my saddle height is optimal. I checked with my heels on the pedals, I checked my knee position at three o'clock. It's all within prescribed limits. My saddle is tipped about 3 degrees forward because having it level cuts circulation to my crotch. This puts a little more pressure on my hands though, and I've had them go numb on those "triple header" crit days where I do the 30+, 35+ and then the Pro-Am. My chrome handlebar tape offers little padding or relief, so maybe it's time to put something a little more forgiving on there.
So as of this date, I have 103.5 hours of training since my season kicked off in mid November, covering a total of 1651 miles. Since January 1st, I have 59 hours and 957 miles. Relative to 2007, I think it took me until the end of May to reach this point.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Conspiracy Theories: Intensity, Duration or RPMs?

I'm beginning to doubt if I really understand what's up with the left knee. Maybe it's time to see an orthopedist or something. I thought it might be tendonitis, but the pain seems to have migrated to the outside of the knee, kind of like IT band friction syndrome. Saturday's 3 hour ride was pain free.. until I got home showered dressed etc. The pain erupted after completing the ride. On Sunday the pain was there from the very first pedal stroke. Frustrating. Then my coach made some observations in reply to my belly aching, after seeing Sunday's chart. I quote:
"Well, let’s see.. your FT is 241 watts from your last test, then you go and do 218 NP for this ride today… uh yeah it’s gonna hurt – that is like 90% of FT! Even if you are underestimating your FT by a little since it is on the trainer, you are riding considerably more aggressive today – and it was supposed to be an endurance ride. Yesterday was a little to the high side of endurance but pretty much right on the money. Now I know you hit some hills a bit today so the variability was there (hence the bigger difference in NP from AVE watts), but it seems that when you ride with others you guys are getting into competing with each other out there. Your NP was almost 20 watts higher today than yesterday – that’s quite a bit. There are some high intensity efforts too – like the 1:20 effort at 410 watts at 1 hour 40 minutes. Your also running a rather low rpm which is going ot make sore legs and not good for that tendon. Late in the ride – 76 rpm??? Before that 84 rpm for almost an hour? Your not on the fixed gear so why so low? Yesterday your cadence was up there for the first half and then drops off too – what is going on? Are you dropping really low on the hills? It looks like that may well be part of the problem – climbing at 65-75 rpm – way too low. Take a look at these files and let me know what you see there relating to where you rode."
Here's what I think: To answer Todd's concerns about the cadence of Saturday's ride dropping in the 2nd half, that's mainly because the first half of the ride was flat- no hills to climb or descend. The second half of the ride was comprised of riding north of route 102 from where it crosses route 1 in North Kingstown all the way to route 117 in West Warwick. Non stop rollers, some of them are kind of hard. Considering that yes, I do tend to grind over a climb instead of spin, my cadence is lower. But then I also coast a bit down the other side, and since my PT is recording zeroes, the average drops even more on the hilly terrain. Moving on to Sunday's ride with my team mates Joe and Brendan.. I had the same average watts riding with them as I did on Saturday, but as Todd points out, my normalized power was 20 watts higher on Sunday- primarily because of two things:
-we hit a LOT of rolling hills for the entire ride
-I climbed a LOT of them out of the saddle
For those who don't know.. Normalized Power is the "if all things were somehow equal, your watts would have been: x.." kind of thing..
Now.. conspiracy theory coming up.. This past week I did two attempts at a Field test (Sat and Tues), I did intervals Wed and Thurs. No pain noted whatsoever in any of these zone 4 and zone 5 efforts. I thought my knee had cleared up completely, I really did.. But then when I go for a three hour endurance ride with about 30% tempo and some rolling hills (I took it easy on the hills btw).. the knee falls apart. This is a clear indication of two things:
1. My knee is well conditioned for hard efforts
2. My knee protests when the duration is abusive (3+ hours), not the intensity.
To wit, I did a lot of out of the saddle climbing on Sunday with my team mates. This is because the knee pain would almost dissipate completely during hard efforts out of the saddle. Seated and spinning hurt a LOT more. This all stands to reason because it's the first time in a long time that I'm doing three hour rides, back to back, week after week. I've also found myself to be more powerful when rpm is 100-105, and I've been favoring higher rpms for that reason.. But I've paid a price.. Think about it: A three hour ride at 80 rpm means 14,400 pedal revolutions. Do the same ride at 90 rpm and it means 16,200 revolutions, a difference of 1800, which can mean the difference between a knee feeling fine and acting up. On rides of over 3 hours, I might need to stick to doing the cadence which is less stressful on my knees. All of the evidence points to high cadence or high duration rides being the cause of my pain. If what coach says is true, lowering my cadence is what's causing the damage. I don't think cadence makes as much difference as the overall number of pedal revolutions of a long ride.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stressing the system

Saturday's ride was 3:12:52 and covered 55 miles
Sunday's ride was 3:35:38 and covered 61 miles
Tendon is still problematic, but much less so than a month ago.
Didn't have to nurse it this weekend and it wasn't a limiting factor, but the inflammation could be felt. It's actually much worse after the ride is over, especially walking down a flight of stairs.
I got a taste of this tonight at the PPAC. My son and I were seated upstairs to watch the "Go Diego Go!" performance. Coming down the stairs I was grabbing the handrail. WTF? Am I going to need one of these before I'm 40?

Friday, February 15, 2008

REI Clearance Sale

Out of pity for those of you who pay $7-12 for a single pair of cycling socks, go to REI this weekend. The sale ends Sunday (call to verify- I went to the Cranston RI store and don't know if the sale applies at all stores). 50% clearance on all items ending in "83" cents. I bought 6 pairs of Pearlizumi socks last night for $1.83 each. Can't beat that. Go buy some before I go and get em all.
Yeah this makes the $55 haircut seem ever more idiotic.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Introductions: Brendan and Scott

In case you didn't already know, Murat has been a busy little bee- securing sponsors, designing apparel and scouting good people to populate my new team.. Millwork One Racing
Two of the riders who have agreed to team up with me have also recently begun to write blogs of their own. I salute their decision to put themselves out there:
Scott Sullivan
Brendan Hanrahan
Pay a visit and spread the love.

New comment on Field Test "Do-Over" result

Ge, take a pill dude.. The increase is not in the 300 watt range (actually I improved much more in the anaerobic zone this time- 308 to 330) the data I refer to is from 239 watts to 251 watts, which represents a 5% improvement.. and YES, for all I know the margin or error for the device and for the variables you list could very well be 5% +/- However, I believe that the factors affecting output are MINIMIZED in a controlled environment like my dining room. (No wind, no hills, steady temperature, not propelling my own weight, bike has been inside for a week and is completely acclimated, torque zeroed etc)
But I'm optimistic about these matters, and I also know my legs and body very well. I know what speeds I can hold on the trainer, and what cadence is required and in what gears. Compared against the test I took a month ago, consider this additional data:
CP20 on 1/9: 239 watts, 21.8 mph, 7.273 miles covered
CP20 on 2/12: 251 watts, 24.5 mph, 8.191 miles covered
No it's not as scientific as you want it to be, but it's evidence that the numbers are compatible with and proportionate to, the output.
Is it my improved form which you're disputing? or the accuracy of the PT? or the necessity of the device? It's working for me.. Not the PT, the training program WITH the PT is working for me. No need to take the wind out of my sails, I do enough of that on my own, to myself, thank you very much.
As a matter of fact, dinner sat in my gut like a brick during last night's test. Conditions weren't optimal. I almost puked.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not interested in indoctrinating you- that's a lost cause. I'm just engaging you on this topic because you're my friend. That and the readers here deserve to be entertained.. 
gewilli wrote:
gewilli has left a new comment on your post "Field Test "Do-Over" result":
what is your margin of error?
statistically what does 12 watts mean?
what is the variance?
you want science?
you can't HANDLE science.
You want to USE science?
USE science, don't just use numbers.
Is 12 a meaningful difference indoors?
IS it from a 1-2 PSI difference in your tires on the trainer?
Is it from a 2-4°F difference in ambient temperature?
Is it from a 1-2 hour extra sleep differential over the last 3 days?
Is it due to eating better the 24 hours leading up to the test?
Is it due to being better hydrated?
better music?
better mentality?
is it the legs...
12 watts.
out of something around 300.
what % increase is that?
You say you want to use the science. But. Are you actually using science?
(hard tough questions - you may know the answers to them all - i'm still just trying to help you understand why i feel these are rather pointless toys)

Field Test "Do-Over" result

I did it. Completed the full indoor test. (Remember Saturday's attempt was aborted)
I'm happy to report that I added 12 watts to my functional threshold, relative to the last indoor field test I did on Jan 9th. When you train hard and see measurable improvement, it really fires you up.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Please visit my sponsors

It costs you nothing and it puts some loose change into my account. I'm saving up for my next haircut so.. click away. Oh and by the way, this is my new favorite song.

Field Test result

I wish I could say that it went perfectly but it didn't. By Saturday morning I had taken enough rest that I felt like a million bucks. I slept in a couple of extra hours and woke up feeling good. Had four waffles for breakfast, took a little more rest, lubed up the bike and got to work warming up. As it turns out, I forgot one very important element.. Anyway. the first 5 minute "all-out" block went GREAT. Only four watts off of my 2007 personal best CP5. This value has been steadily increasing for the past three months. I tried in December and hit 308, tried January and hit 318. Saturday I did 330. The speed and heart rate checks out too, so there's no doubt about erroneous readings. The five minutes averaged at 30.1 mph. In contrast, my CP5 at the Bob Beal time trail was only 310.. but of course that was after a miserable and crampy road race in the rain.. The verdict: my zone 5a/b power is doing very well.. it's well ahead of schedule, relative to 2007's progression.
After the 5 minute ice breaker, I get 10 minutes to recover... and this is when it dawns on me that I screwed up. Back in December I had two aborted field tests- both were indoors and both times it was because of overheating. Then I wised up and did the test out in the garage and had no such problems. For whatever reason, I forgot all about this and found myself unable to recover from the 5 minute test. Still I began the 20 minute time trial expecting to crush my previous test result from Jan 9th. About 5 minutes into it I'm suffering way more than I expected to. Not only did I start out too hard, I was just plain hot and it was affecting my heart rate big time. I had a window open and I had positioned myself in front of a door cracked 1/2 open, but this wasn't enough relief. After the 7th minute I started to fade.. avg watts ticking down one watt at a time.. when soon I was at the last tests average and before long, under it by a few watts. "This suck balls.. if I'm going to do worse in the 20 min TT than I did a month ago, I'd rather try a 'do-over' in a few days, in the garage". So I sat up in the 8th minute, cooled down for 20 minutes.. happy about my 5 minute result, but angry at myself for setting up the test indoors where it's just too hot to perform and put out big efforts. A new test is scheduled for tomorrow night. Yes, I still have to do the five minute portion! The 20 minute data is useless if you don't start out with 40 minutes of simulated tiredness in your legs. I need to keep reminding myself: The point of the Field Test isn't to look at the result and feel satisfaction about improving the numbers. The objective is to establish today's FT and make sure that workouts are performed at the correct intensity.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sticker Shock and Awe

My barber passed away about a year ago.. He was 90+ years old, hunched over with shaking hands and a scrunched up face with an almost comically large chin. Loved the guy. When I discovered he was gone, I went into a zombie like trance in search of a person who could fill his shoes. It's hasn't been fruitful. I've been to about 4 different barber shops in the past year, sat down and patiently waited my turn, when suddenly something about the place- it's cleanliness, it's clientele, it's smell, it's chairs, someone's poor grammar.. something.. made me get up and walk out, un-clipped. I've had two haircuts in the past year: once by my former barber's son, who did a piss poor job, and again while in Turkey last July, where they always do excellent work. So it's been about 6 months.
Today I had enough of trying to manage and control  and fight with my curly lion's mane and I went to my wife's downtown salon. Got an appointment with her stylist. Expected to pay through the nose and be treated a little bit special. Even though those two expectations were met, it was still a disappointment. The guy struggled for over an hour to cut my hair with scissors (I would have been happy with a quality clipper job), left me looking kind of like a little kid and they ended up charging me FIFTY FIVE MO FO DOLLARS.. I wanted to get out of there so bad that I didn't argue. I paid my bill, left a $10 tip, and screwed. They had told my wife on the phone that it would be $29.. not sure why I paid double.. must have something to do with taking so long.. I guess I'm all caught up in terms of my annual "haircut budget". I can afford to go there once a year.. Not.. Never again. That was a dumb move. As I've always believed and now confirm: Men should go to barbers. No exceptions. If you let a woman or a "stylist" cut your hair, you either like eating your corn the long way or you still live with your mom. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stomach Flu

After two days of uncontrollable evacuations, fevers, chills, muscle pains and headaches, I feel 1000% better and even put in a nice ride last night on the trainer. Saturday there's a field test. Weather forecast indicates that I may be doing this one on the windtrainer like the last time. Dang.. That means that Normalized power will be pretty much equal to Average power.. It's okay if you don't know what that means.. Anyway, one good thing has become of the bug which made my whole family ill last weekend: I've dropped four pounds!... but more importantly, one full day of nausea-inspired-fasting has shrunk my appetite. and my stomach capacity. Plus, two full days without any coffee, and I didn't really miss it.
To give ya an idear of what that means for me right now.. I now weigh about 17 pounds less than I did on this date one year ago. Even after returning from San Diego at the end of February last year, I was an astonishing 188 pounds. I'm now 173.. and my race weight of last July was a svelte 165. Not too far off the mark. Oh yeah.. base miles are useless, who needs 'em. P-f-f-f-f-f-t-t ! At this rate, getting myself under 160 pounds doesn't seem unrealistic.