Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Wife Beater

[We had great weather today, and went for a 60 mile ride – including a 20 minute all out time trial effort. I’m pretty sure that means I earned the right to sit in a recliner tomorrow and watch 7 hours of football pre-game shows and the Super Bowl, too. Right?]

This is not an entry about domestic violence. Far from it. It is a story of cooperation and fierce domestic competition. Friendly competition is a powerful motivator. Not-so-friendly competition is even more powerful!

Phil is amazingly supportive of me and my cycling adventures – in fact, one of our infrequent fights (or “discussions” in our outside voices, if you prefer) was about Phil’s habit of bragging about my cycling accomplishments to his friends and acquaintances, which causes me lots of embarrassment and discomfort.

Nevertheless . . . I do hold the Family Record times for the Mt Evans Hill Climb and Leadville 100 Mountain Bike races. [I’m just sayin’ . . .]

Phil is turning 50 this year. His mid-life crisis is not following the well-trod path – no hair implants, no Harley Davidson motorcycle purchases, no buxom blondes in foreign convertibles.

Instead, he wants to have his best cycling season ever. How to measure that? His goal is to beat me in both the Mt Evans Hill Climb and at Leadville. And I want him to. Really, I do. But as Lance Armstrong once famously said after a brutally difficult race from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand – no gifts.

If Phil wants the bragging rights, he’s going to have to earn them. So, he has been quite focused during our workouts and is being really meticulous with his diet. Just in case those two elements are not enough, he has also made a technology upgrade. Phil took delivery of a Sampson Diablo road bike this morning.

It weighs 15.6 pounds – with pedals and water bottle cages.

[Eric Sampson - owner of Sampson Cycling and bike builder, with Phil]

The tech specs are as follows –
Campy Record 11 speed [12 – 27]

with a compact crankset [50/34]

Wheels are Hed Ardennes

The saddle is a Sampson model that Eric highly recommended (Phil broke it in with a 60 mile ride today and said it felt great.)

Campy record brakes

And Phil's favorite feature of the whole bike - the Sampson handlebars - he can't stop talking about how nice they feel and how comfortable they are!

The gauntlet has been thrown. Time will tell if the Diablo is a Wife Beater. I’m ready to defend my record – may the cyclist who wants it most win!

The maiden voyage

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Significance of Measuring Power

Stimulus vs. Response:

A basic tenet in training is that there is a distinct relationship between an individual’s training load, or the training stimulus, and that person’s adaptive response or performance. This “Stimulus-Response” relationship is generalized as an inverted U relationship, where too little or too much stimulus results in sub-optimal performances. If you don’t train, you won’t perform, but if you train too much you also run the risk of hurting your performance.

Determining the optimal amount of training for a given individual is often the biggest single problem faced by an athlete. Until recently the tools to easily measure the training stimulus did not exist in endurance sports like cycling, where variations in wind, terrain, and drafting, make speed and distance an inconsistent measure of the training load.

Because power output is an absolute and objective measure of the training stimulus, the advent of power meter technology now makes it possible to accurately quantify an individual’s training load.

In the same way that weight lifters can measure the actual mass that they lift in the gym, cyclists can now measure the actual power they produce when riding.

Power (Stimulus) vs. Heart Rate (Response):

In the laboratory, there is a strong and linear relationship between power output and an individual’s heart rate response. As power output increases in a controlled lab environment, heart rate also increases in a predictable fashion. Because of this strong relationship between power and heart rate in the lab, heart rate became a common way to measure exercise intensity in real world conditions. This assumed, however, that the relationship between heart rate and power output remained the same outside the laboratory.

We now know that a number of factors can change the relationship between power output and heart rate in the “real world.” These factors include dehydration, heat stress, sudden changes in power output, fatigue, changes in a person’s fitness level, and the excitement of competition.

As a result, heart rate is not a good predictor of the training stimulus or power output in the field, especially in competitive events where power output can vary tremendously. This doesn’t mean that the heart rate response is un-important. It just means that the heart rate response is one of many physiological responses.

Power Output Provides Objective Feedback:

Ultimately, monitoring and evaluating power output during training and competition provides the most objective and immediate feedback about one’s performance.

Understanding your own response to training relative to an objective measure like power output takes the guesswork out of training because of direct, consistent, and immediate feedback.

Basic Principles Have Not Changed -- The Ability to Apply Them Has:

Training with power does not change the basic nature of training - you still have to work hard if you want to improve. But you can also work smarter by applying basic training principles that have been difficult to apply without power.


A fundamental training principle is that training should be as specific to the demands of competition as possible. That is, your training should replicate either in parts or as a whole what happens in competition if you want to optimize your training for a given event.

Using power, you can measure different aspects of a given race, such as the average power output, total energy required, and time spent in different intensity ranges. Your coach can then use that information to develop better training strategies and to monitor whether your training is specific to your competitive goals.


Another basic training principle is the idea of periodization - the balance between hard days of training [overload] and easy days of training [recovery].

In order to adapt, the training stimulus needs to be greater than recently experienced – overload. At the same time, any period of overload needs to be followed by a period of rest or recovery to allow the body to heal and grow stronger.

If done correctly, over time an individual’s training load looks very similar to a stock chart for a successful company. Despite periodic highs and lows, the general training load that person is able to handle continues to grow.

Creating proper periodization schedules was extremely difficult before cyclists could accurately monitor their training using power; like an unstable economy, evaluating the value of one’s training load was speculative at best.


A training program that works well on one individual may not work as well on another. This idea is called individuality and reflects the unique genetic attributes of each individual.

Because every individual may respond differently to training, to reach a given fitness or performance goal, it is important to develop techniques and strategies for a given person to quickly and efficiently experiment with their own training rather than adopting strategies developed or tested in dissimilar individuals.

Power technology provides scientifically accurate information that is specific to the individual user. You can figure out how a given training plan affects your performance rather than generalize from a program designed for a different person.

Next – my new toy . . .

Monday, January 26, 2009

What is Power?

Let’s start with defining power - In practical terms, power is a combination of how hard and how fast a cyclist pushes on the pedals or how fast an athlete can overcome all the forces holding her back.

Power is simply the amount of work or energy expended in a given time frame and is measured as a watt.

Normally, work or energy is represented as a joule, while time is represented in seconds. So 1 watt is equal to 1 joule of energy per second while 100 watts is equal to 100 joules per second.

As a point of reference, 1 horsepower is equal to 746 watts or 746 joules of energy per second. An elite professional cyclist can hold just over 400 watts for 30 minutes. [I can hold 150W for about 30 minutes before exploding. Good thing I have a day job.]

So - power output on a bicycle is simply a product of how hard you push on the pedals and how fast you pedal. To produce more power, you can either push harder or pedal faster.

On the bicycle, power is also a product of your speed and all of the forces that resist forward motion.

Those forces include wind, gravity, and the junction where rubber literally hits the road. Accordingly, the power an athlete needs for a given speed is dependent upon factors like weight, aerodynamic drag, the road surface, and tires.

Because these factors are different for everyone, when comparing athletes, power is best expressed as a power to weight ratio for climbing or a power to drag ratio for riding on the flats.

Following are approximate ranges for power output to weight ratios at the lactate threshold for men and women of varying ability.

Power Output to Weight (Watts per Kg) at Lactate Threshold

USCF Category 4-5
Women 2.5 to 3.0

Men 3.0 to 3.5

USCF Category 2-3
Women 3.0 to 3.5

Men 4.0 to 4.5

US Domestic Professional
Women 3.5 to 4.0

Men 4.5 to 5.0

Successful Pro Tour Pro
Women 4.0 to 4.5

Men 5.0 to 5.5

At my last test at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in October, 2008, my power to weight ratio was 2.5. Not very impressive, but at least on the chart! Since that time, with the training we have been doing, and the weight I have lost, I’m probably inching up closer to 2.8.

Next up . . . The Significance of Measuring Power and Energy

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Movies to Inspire and Distract

We had beautiful weather last weekend and got to ride outside in 60 degree sunshine.

This weekend we were not so lucky. It was snowing and 17 degrees today. Brrr. So, back to the basement Torture Chamber for us.

Saturday we did a 2 hour endurance ride and today we pushed the limits of my “trainer butt” by doing a 2.5 hour ride. The first 90 minutes weren’t bad, but I only managed to stay on the bike for the next 60 minutes because Phil was being a motivating influence.

Here are my mini-reviews of the last several movies we’ve watched while putting in the crucial, but mentally excruciating, base miles on the trainers.

Four Minutes -
This was interesting and inspiring, too. It follows the attempts by Roger Bannister to break the 4 minute mile time record. As a trivia bonus, currently, the mile record is held by Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome in 1999.

Grizzly Man -
Phil and I grew up in grizzly country, near Glacier National Park in Montana. So we thought this guy was a nut-ball from the get go. Nevertheless, the movie is riveting.

There Will Be Blood -
If you have to do a 2.5 mile indoor ride, here is your movie. I wasn’t sure which I was happier to have end – the workout or the film. I know this got tons of awards, but I found it quite slow and if I hadn’t been trapped on my trainer I’m not sure I would have been able to sit through the whole darn 2.5 hour movie. Daniel Day Lewis is still a hottie, though . . .

The Sopranos
- We don’t have any premium cable channels, so we are about 7 years behind the rest of America in discovering The Sopranos. Have I mentioned how cool NetFlix is? So, we are now working our way through Season 1. That Tony; he’s got problems!

- This is another inspiring film. Steve Prefontaine was one of the leaders of the running revolution in the early 70s. He may not have been a very nice guy, but he was a gifted athlete.

The Triplets of Belleville -
This is another film that was a darling of the film critics. I found it entertaining, but a bit odd. There is no dialog, so it is perfect for the trainers – we never had to ask “What did she just say?”

Racing Against the Clock
- This is a movie we actually watched last year. It tells the stories of five women between the ages of 50 and 82 who compete against each other, and ultimately themselves, in their quest to reach the World Masters Athletics Championships in Puerto Rico in June 2003. These women include a three-time cancer survivor, a sharecropper's daughter, a political refugee, a former cowgirl and the oldest athlete to ever be honored as a finalist for the Sullivan Award which celebrates the top amateur athletes in America. Pre-Title IX, these athletes grew up in an era when women did not participate in sports. With some not entering the realm of competition until well after retirement, there is no telling what they may have accomplished had things been different. Vibrant, inspiring and courageous, these women shatter preconceptions about aging and about the human spirit. I loved it.

Next post - I'll begin a discussion of training with power.

Monday, January 19, 2009

United We Ride

In recognition of tomorrow's historic inauguration, this profile of Earl Blumenauer seems worth sharing.

I particularly like the following quote: “Bicycling unites people regardless of party affiliation.”

I know that for a fact – Phil and I tend to cancel each other out in the voting booth.

I challenge us all to make an effort to find that which unites us, rather than focusing on that which divides us.

Now get out and ride!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Feeding the Beast

We are doing longer rides on the weekends now -- 2-1/2 to 4 hours is typical. Of course, we're starving when we get home. Our challenge to is eat a reasonable amount to top off our glycogen supplies, but not to gorge ourselves. I made this for dinner last night, and it was a hit with Phil. Add a side of steamed asparagus and you've got a great tasting dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Orzo with Chicken Artichoke Wine Sauce

1 (12-ounce) package orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke quarters, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes with Italian seasoning (garlic, basil & oregano)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute.

Add wine, pepper, tomatoes and artichokes; simmer 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is done.

Remove from heat; stir in olives, cheese, balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup basil.

Place sauce and pasta in a large bowl; stir gently to combine.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our Home Gym

Every year, consumers spend an estimated $4 billion on home treadmills, stationary bikes, Stairmasters and other equipment that ends up gathering dust. A Consumer Reports survey last year found that nearly 40 percent of those who buy home exercise machines say they use them less than they expected.
When it comes to sticking with an exercise plan, having home equipment is not the most important factor. What matters more is “self-efficacy” — a deep-seated belief that we really do have the power to achieve our goals.

Recent studies have found simple ways to increase the likelihood that you will keep exercising. Working out with friends or family members, mastering an exercise (like the proper way to use gym equipment), and working with someone who motivates you, like a personal trainer, all build confidence and bolster the chances of sticking with it.

Phil and I were members for several years of a downtown gym that we loved. A recent change in ownership and management philosophy, combined with an extended facility renovation, forced us to seek other options.

Eventually we decided to add a few new pieces of equipment to our home gym and see if we could get a satisfying workout on our own.

As I have noted before, we use the CompuTrainers for our aerobic workouts (music stand is great for holding our interval workout cue sheets):

Mechanical stuff that makes the CompuTrainer work (like the high-tech explanation?)
Phil also uses rollers to improve his balance, pedal stroke and perform low intensity recovery workouts. Rollers scare the bejeebers out of me – I see them as a really neat way to break a collarbone.

So I avoid using them.

We use the rest of the equipment to supplement our balance, flexibility, core and strength training:

Cable machines are a type of weight machine that allow for a wide variety of movements and weight lifting exercises:

Cable weight machine

Bosu ball & adjustable barbells

Fitballs, medicine balls & balance discs

Adjustable step

We find we can do a wide variety of exercises with this equipment.

We miss the friends we made at our gym, and we sometimes would like a change of scenery, but we have everything we need at home to get a top-notch workout.

When all is said and done, having each other as built-in workout buddies is the primary reason a home gym works for us. If you don't have that sort of built-in motivator, spending money on a personal trainer might make more sense than buying home gym equipment, at least until you get your workout habit established.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Designing a Training Plan

As I shared earlier, Phil and I are fortunate to be working with a coach this season. That hasn’t always been the case for us; self-coaching is the norm for most cyclists.

If you are willing to put in some time and effort you can design a personal training strategy that can be quite successful.

Based on our prior experience and some tips in a recent VeloNews article
by Frank Overton, the head Cycling Coach at, here are four steps to use for designing a 2009 training plan.

Step 1: Get Organized
The first step in designing your plan is to have everything written down and organized.

Break down the entire 2009 calendar on a weekly basis. If you know in advance when you'll be taking a vacation away from the bike, or travelling for business, mark it on the calendar.

Step 2: What are you training for?

The next step is to identify precisely what you are training for. Having a tangible goal to work for will give you the motivation to get on the bike each day with a purpose.

Your season plan should bring you to your peak for the most important events. I call these "A" events. The "B" events are important, too, but you will not taper and peak for these, just rest for three to four days before. "C" events are tune-ups to get you ready for the A and B events. Use these low-priority events for experience, or to practice pacing, or as a time trial to gauge fitness.

Enter all these events into the calendar. Define how many weeks you have from now until your “A” event(s).

Having the big picture of your event schedule gives you the ability to focus your training week-to-week.

Step 3: Advanced Planning

Now that you your goals are defined, begin to fill in your plan with more detail. Concentrate on the number of weeks you have before your race season begins.

Remember, designing your own training plan is a not a one-time exercise; it's a work in progress. Know that illness, injury, crappy weather and other unplanned-for interruptions and distractions may arise. You can go back to the plan and adjust as often as needed – but keep your main goals in mind as you do that.

Write down how many hours you can train each week between now and when your season begins. Keep your estimate realistic. Stay accountable for the hours you commit to.

Step 4: Day to Day Plan Design

Take the weekly hours from your big picture plan and pencil them in for the week ending each Sunday. For example, you might plan eight hours for the week January 18th - 24th. To fit in those hours, you can do three one-hour mid-week workouts and two 2.5-hour rides over the weekend. Alternatively, you might do one three-hour ride on Saturday and a two-hour ride on Sunday. The benefit of designing your own training plan is that you know the limitations of your schedule and how each week/weekend shapes up.

Every two (if you are over 45 years old) or three weeks (if you are a fresh-faced kid) plan a recovery week with fewer hours than you would normally ride. Give yourself more complete off days during the work week and ride once on the weekend. Try to train especially hard in the week and the days before your planned rest.

Repeat your day-to-day training plan design once-a-month using a monthly calendar. Always plan ahead based on what has happened with your previous training.

Keep a training log. Are your legs heavy? Is your heart rate unusually high? Are you hungry and cranky? Or do you feel great and can’t wait for tomorrow’s workout?

Record workout details, perceptions of effort, stress signals, event results and analyses, signs of increasing or decreasing fitness, equipment changes, and anything else that describes your daily experience. Most athletes also find that keeping a log provides them with a sharper training focus and more rapid growth toward their goals.

Mix up your training plan with endurance rides, tempo workouts, intervals, core and flexibility work and cross-training off the bike, if you can.

Here are two sample interval workouts for you to try:

The 10- to Two-minute Descending Ladder

Start with a 10-minute hard effort followed by two minutes of easy spinning for recovery.

Your second interval will consist of eight minutes hard effort and another two minutes of easy spinning.

Each hard set decreases in time by two minutes while increasing slightly in intensity. The easy set remains the same.

The workout ends when you reach two minutes of hard effort.

Cool down and call it quits for the day.


Pyramids are a variation of the above workout. Usually pyramid workouts consist of gradually increasing periods of hard effort, then gradually decreasing these periods of hard effort.

For example, after a normal warm-up, you could go one minute hard, one minute easy, two minutes hard, two minutes easy, three hard, three easy, four hard, four easy; then descend to three and three, two and two, and one and one.

Or you may choose to keep the time element constant and gradually increase the load. For example, pick a steady cadence and go to a smaller rear cog every two minutes until you reach your highest gear, at which point you lower your gear by one cog every two minutes. (Beginners may wish to use one-minute intervals instead of two minutes.)

Good luck!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby . . . It's Cold Outside

2 people + 1 ride in 40° weather = 1 huge pile of laundry.

I’m learning that dressing for cold weather cycling is an art. If I start out with enough clothes so I’m comfortable while standing in the driveway, I’m going to be too warm after about 10 minutes of riding, at which time I’ll need to stop and shed gear, and by then I’ll be cold again. Ugh.

What to wear is also dependent on the elevation profile of the planned ride. If you are doing a big climb with too many clothes on, you’ll heat up and get sweaty – then coming back downhill is miserable because you are wet. So you need to layer in order to stay warm without getting too sweaty.

Here are some tips for dry, cold weather riding based on experience from the last few weeks (I probably run a little cooler than most of the guys reading this, so plan your layers accordingly):

First, spend the money to get a couple really high quality base layer items - Craft base layers are unbeatable. Under Armour is making some good stuff these days, too. If you are on a tight budget, check out the Champion line Target carries. For your outer layers, consider anything with Gore Windstopper technology. Also, REI is having their huge winter clearance sale right now - REI store brand items are an incredible value, especially when they are on sale.

[Nike baselayer, Fox Fleece jersey, Pearl Izumi AmFib tights and Specialized Therminix tights]

40-55 degrees:
Long sleeve wicking top with zip neck
(Maybe) arm warmers under the sleeves of the undershirt
Long sleeve jersey
Windproof vest
Lined tights and shorts
Mid-weight gloves
Skull cap
Mid-weight wool socks &
½ shoe covers

30-40 degrees:
Long sleeve wicking top with zip neck
Long sleeve fleece semi-windproof jersey
Windproof vest
Windproof jacket
Tights with windproof panels on the front [Specialized Therminix or Pearl Izumi AmFib] and shorts
Warm windproof gloves and Mid-weight gloves (may need to change from one pair to the other during the ride)
Skull cap
Mid-weight wool socks &
Full shoe covers

Colder than 30 degrees?

Shorts and a wicking tank top!

I’m inside on the CompuTrainer if it is below 30 degrees outside. I know there are lots of folks riding down to zero or below, but I’m not tough enough for that.

One other tip - don't try to wear thick, heavy socks unless you have a pair of cycling shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes too large. Otherwise you inhibit the circulation in your toes, and you'll be miserable. If you are having problems with frozen toes and don't have a spare pair of larger "winter shoes," go with a lighter sock and get a heavier shoe cover, if necessary.

Happy riding - and stay warm out there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

4 hours and 40 mph

Saturday we had a 3 hour “easy ride” on our training calendar. The roads were dry and the sun was trying valiantly to peek out, even though it only warmed things up to about 42°. It was enough, however, to entice us away from the torture of the basement-bound CompuTrainers, so we rode outside. [We have a hard upper limit of 2 hours for our indoor trainer rides. Mentally, even with movies for distraction, that is all we can take. Physically, that is the limit, too. You can’t really stand and get out of the saddle on CompuTrainers, so 2 hours is all my tender tush can take.]

Since we were supposed to do an easy low Watts/low Heart Rate ride, we headed east, away from the mountains. We rode the 44th Ave. bike path from Golden to its end in Applewood. Then we rode 26th into downtown Denver, getting on the Platte River bike path near the Children’s Museum. We headed south to C-470, then west and back home. The ride was about 55 miles, and generally pleasant.

Along the Platte River Trail near the Englewood golf course.
Yes, I am as cold as I look.

We figured it would take a little longer than 3 hours to do the whole loop since we were not pushing hard. We were on target for maybe 3 hours & 15 minutes to 3-1/2 hours until we made the turn on C-470.

Holy crap.

The wind picked up and it was epic. I’ve ridden in worse, but it is never any fun. Either you are blown to a complete standstill, or you battle for balance and position, trying to keep from flying into the ditch or into on-coming traffic – neither option is optimal.

I didn't get any photos during the windstorm. We put our heads down and concentrated on staying warm and out of the ditch.

We made it home in one piece after about 4 hours.
Even with the wind, we both rated the ride as a much more enjoyable workout than riding inside.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

iTunes and Intervals

I’ve shared our secret for long indoor endurance rides on the CompuTrainers – movies!

But the secret for short hard punishing intervals is a really good iTunes playlist. Now that Apple is going to lower the price on its downloads (well, some of them, anyway)
I thought I’d offer some suggestions. I have a playlist with about 350 songs that I set up on shuffle and crank when we have interval workouts.

Here are some of the best (in no particular order):

Ain’t that Lonely Yet – Dwight Yoakam
Baby Did a Bad Thing – Chris Isaac
The Distance – Cake
Get the Party Started – Pink
Gone Daddy Gone – Gnarls Barkley
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters
Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
I Run for Life – Melissa Etheridge
Many the Miles – Sara Barielles
Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) – Alison Krauss and Robert Plant
Mercy – Duffy
1234 - Feist
Pepper – Butthole Surfers
Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Running on Empty – Jackson Browne
Saving Grace – Tom Petty
Something Good This Way Comes – Jakob Dylan
707 - Rosanne Cash
There’s Your Trouble – Dixie Chicks
Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
Time to Switch to Whiskey – Corb Lund

I’d love to hear any suggestions/additions you might have – I’m always looking for new music.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spring Training

You may recall I was conflicted about what kind of a vacation to take in 2009. The vote from friends and colleagues was in favor of a relaxing beach vacation. When several of our friends took off for trips to sunny Mexico over the Christmas holidays, that option kept looking better and better.

But it looks like we’ll have to just hold that thought for another time, as we have made plans for a 10-day “ride until your legs fall off” cycling vacation.

We have made arrangements to go to Solvang, Califonia in the middle of March. We’ll arrive just in time to ride the Solvang Century
. We’ll take the next day to cruise around the gorgeous wine country that provided the backdrop for the movie “Sideways.”

Then, the big fun begins. We have signed up for PlanetUltra’s “Solvang Spring Cycling Tour.” We'll enjoy
7 days of hardcore cycling aimed at giving us a jump on our fitness.

Several stages of the Tour of California have been held in the Solvang area, and team Discovery used to hold its spring training camps there. I’m thankful that we’ll be at sea level, but that volume of riding so early our season will still put us in the hurt locker – for at least a little while.

We may be unable to navigate the airport without a wheelchair on our return trip, but at this point, it is really exciting and motivating.

Anyone else want to join us?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Boulder Indoor Cycling Velodrome Opens

For cyclists, living in Colorado is like being a kid in a candy store. There is world class mountain biking, breathtaking road biking (Colorado National Monument in Fruita, for one) and this weekend yet another option appeared on our menu.

The Boulder Indoor Cycling
center is having its grand opening today.

I’ve never ridden on a velodrome, but it looks exciting! Phil, Jeffrey and I attended the Collegiate Track Cycling National Championships in Colorado Springs last September. Tactics and strategy are crucial – as well as being able to put out enough power to light up Manhattan.

Here are some thoughts on track cycling and life in general
that seemed worth sharing.

Hopefully we’ll get up to Boulder in the next couple of weeks so I can give you the full scoop. If you get there before I do, leave a comment or drop me a note – I’d love to hear what you think.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dumb Luck

Have you ever had a moment when inspiration and dumb luck intersected? I just experienced serendipity on such a grand scale I'm still shaking my head.

Phil and I had been talking about hiring a coach for the 2009 assault on Leadville since late August. But we hadn't found anyone that we were both excited about working with. I wanted someone local, and he wanted someone with real endurance racing credibility. We were not finding that combination despite a good bit of time and effort beating the bushes (or Googling surreptitiously while on boring conference calls at work).

As January 1 approached, we got a bit more agitated about it, as we both wanted to be on a program by that date.

We went to dinner a couple weeks ago and over glasses of Chianti talked again about our attribute wish list for a coach. Keeping to my goal of finding someone local (the greater Denver area, but Boulder or Golden-based was my real preference), I said, "Let's see if Nat Ross can recommend someone." Phil, being very supportive and a good sport, didn't snort his wine out his nose while laughing at me. He said, "Ummm. Okay; I suppose it's worth a try."

So we went home and Googled a little bit and found an e-mail address for Nat. I sent him a note along the lines of: "It doesn't look like you offer coaching services yourself, but can you recommend someone in the Golden area that you think might be available to coach a couple of recreational riders?" [I also tried to schmooze a little bit and name-dropped our friend Yuki, who won the 12 Hours of Snowmass event Nat promoted in August – thanks, Yuki!]

I fully expected that we would not receive a response to the e-mail. So imagine my surprise . . .

The next day I checked my e-mail and found a response from Nat. Not only could he recommend someone in Golden, the someone he could recommend was NAT ROSS!

Two days later Nat was at our house, having a glass of wine, talking with us about our goals, our limitations and sketching out a plan for the 2009 season. Really.

We are still pinching ourselves.

So, yeah, we are being coached by a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame; the guy who holds the record for the most solo 24-hour race finishes, many ending in podium appearances. Nat had a particularly stellar 2007: He was part of a victorious four-man Race Across America team, and won the National Ultra Endurance Series overall title as well as the Duo Pro class at the prestigious 24 Hours of Moab.

Hot damn.

Now, just because we have a superstar coach, doesn't mean our performances will improve. But it surely won't hurt. We are anxious to learn as much as possible from Nat over this upcoming year.

I love being lucky!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yesterday Phil and I got out for our last mountain bike ride of 2008. I forgot my camera – aaargh – so didn’t get any photos to share. It was a sunny day, with bright blue skies a crisp temperature of about 55°. Most of the trail was dry (we rode on South Table Mountain) but we did hit a few muddy patches. Phil’s bike doesn’t clear mud very well, so he had some challenges. I ended up having kind of a nasty attack of exercise induced asthma due to the cool air, so we just rode one lap and called it a day.

Today we did our annual New Year’s Day ride up Lookout Mountain. For the last 5 years – if the roads are dry - we’ve gotten together with various friends to kick off the year with a ride. Jeffrey joined us today.
It was about 50°, but not very sunny, so it felt cooler. We saw at least 40 or 50 other riders – including a couple who greeted everyone they passed with a robust “Happy New Year!”

We are so lucky to live in a place with: world class cycling – both road and mountain bike options; generally good weather; and lots of active people so we don’t stand out as big crazy freaks!
One view from the top.
Phil racing the cars.
Jeffrey: "peace dude"
Riding in the mountains at this time of year presents special challenges when selecting gear. You need to be a little bit cool when you head out, because you heat up dramatically while climbing. If you are warm when you start riding, you'll overheat and sweat too much. Then the descent is bonechilling due to your wet clothes. So, we rode up in shirt sleeves (2 layers)and bundled up for the ride down.

We capped off the day with a visit to Woody’s, our favorite place for a post-ride beer and pizza treat.
A great way to start the year – biking, buddies and beer. Does it get better than that?