Friday, July 30, 2010

leroy TT

The timing of my follow-up appointment worked out well to return to racing at the Leroy TT. The weather was great last night, and Jim had a big group turn out to race in mild temps and breezy conditions. The group was so big that we needed to start at 30 second intervals instead of the usual minute.

I went off from the starting line with a good out of the saddle effort. It was really the first time in a couple months that I cranked on the bars like that. I was really pumped up that it felt close to "normal", so I promptly discarded the conservative pacing strategy I had for the night and put the pedal to the floor.

Since we started the race with only a 30 second gap between riders, I could easily see the rider in front of me and noticed I was gradually closing the gap. I went through the corner and was pretty sure I'd catch him before the turn around.

I went a little too hard on the first part of the hill and paid the price on the flat section by the cell phone tower, but then I did a good effort on the steep section and caught him just as Kevin M caught me. That threw my concentration for a couple seconds. I sat up to catch my breath before the turn around, then the chase was on!

I caught up with them at the turn and went past with a little burst of power. I thought, I'd just keep the hammer down all the way to the line, but slowed a little around Brakeman Road. They both passed me again just as I was recovering, so I put the hammer down again and passed again. Once we were in sight of the line, I was pretty fried, so Kevin passed me again but I held on for a decent time.

I was surprised to get a 20:35, which is actually significantly better than my previous effort this season. I was also surprised to average 310 Watts (3.1 W/kg), although I tweaked my position on the bike this week, so my iBike readings probably are probably off a bit.

I think my strategy for next week will be to pace myself more carefully over the first 5 miles of the course, then go for broke the last two miles.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the pain scale

I had another follow-up appointment today, yet more x-rays, and had the pin that's been immobilizing my middle finger removed. And when I write "pin", I mean something like a finishing nail that went from my finger tip through the bone into the middle bone. And when I write "removed", I mean pulled out with a pair of pliers.

Since I've had a bunch of post crash doctor visits, I've had to give a number to my pain level several times. However, pain is a relative thing, and when you're put on the spot to try to quantify it, it's difficult, especially if you're a geeky type of person.

A paper cut on your finger tip hurts like crazy, and in the moment it happens, I'd probably give it a "10" but of course it's not remotely life threatening even for a hemophiliac. When you're really seriously hurt, initially there's something that's more like a wave of trauma as you start to realize what happened, but then the mind wanders off into a  fantasy land where there's no blood, no trauma, and no pain. So even though that's a real "10" on the pain chart, you don't know it.

But sheesh, even though my finger was numb today, it definitely was an off-the-chart level of agony today.

But before I complain about that, there's nothing like a trip to the hospital to put one's troubles into perspective. While I was waiting for the docs, I overheard a conversation about a woman who had just been admitted for a completely shattered right arm and severed left arm. So, while I'm going to start racing again, that poor woman's life is completely changed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

it's tricky

I was totally worn out when I went out for a ride today. It can be difficult to decide when to throw the towel in, though. Sometimes I feel totally worn out and blah until I get on the bike, and once I get warmed up I end up flying. After a few minutes, I almost turned around and went home, but I thought I'd give my legs more of a chance to warm up first.

I felt fine when I was doing hard efforts, but felt like I was dragging an anchor when I was just riding tempo. That's a sure sign that I need a couple days off, but by then I was already down Thwing Road hill and on my way over to Kirtland Chardon Road.

I did a good effort on the climb, but I was completely done after that and rode home on the little chain ring. I guess I'm due for some recovery time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

almost all back together

I have another ortho appointment next week. I'll have yet another set of x-rays of both hands to see how my scaphoid is healing and to see if the pin can be removed from my finger. If my wrist is done healing, I'll start racing again. At this point, it will just be a huge relief not to worry about it any more and will be a welcome change to be able to get out of the saddle while I'm riding.

I just got my rebuilt front wheel, and I've managed to drag my fitness back to where it was in May. This week I managed to do some decent efforts while out on training rides even without being able to pull or push with my left arm.

Hopefully I'll be able to get some racing in before the road season is done and I'll keep ramping up for 'cross season instead of going into hibernation mode as it gets started.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

the opening of the east

Princeton Road

I went out for a ride today to do some intervals on Hart Road up in Montville. I took the bike path from Chardon out to Stillwell Road and I noticed that what had formerly been gravel had been resurfaced with chipseal. So I took it over to Princeton Road. Princeton used to have some paved sections and some gravel sections, but the gravel had also been replaced with chipseal. It looks like all (maybe?) the remaining gravel road in eastern Geauga County has been replaced with chipseal roads.

The chipseal roads open up quite a few new routes out into eastern Geauga County and western 'bula. I haven't been a big fan of riding out there on the primary roads like Chardon-Windor or S.R. 6--even though there's usually not much traffic, because when there is, it is a truck that's going 65 mph a few inches from your shoulder.

There's a nice little route down the bike path to the Headwaters Park end of the trail, then to Durkee Road over to Princeton and around the reservoir. That route used to have a couple nasty gravel sections, but now it should be relatively easy.

Another possibility is to take Huntley Road and head way out into the Grand River Valley to reach some of the great roads out there.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

spin to win?

Almost every cycling book stresses the importance of spinning the pedals and developing a supple pedaling style. I've diligently worked on my pedaling technique over the years, but recently, I started to wonder about the value of that advice.

A while ago, I read an article about the reasons that chimpanzees are so much stronger pound for pound than humans. One reason is that chimps don't have the neural wiring for fine motor control. I don't think there's a direct application of that article to pedaling. The idea I take away from that is simpler motions can be more forceful than nuanced motions.

Another aspect of a simpler banging pedaling motion that could be beneficial is that the leg muscles can be relaxed during most of the pedal stroke even though they're used to generated a short, more intense burst of power. When spinning, many muscles are engaged through the entire pedal stroke.

Also, I've noticed many of the fast local riders bang the pedals instead of spin. And I've been paying attention to how riders in the Tour are pedaling. In stage 7, Juan Antonio Flecha was pacing the field up one of the climbs in the race, and his pedal stroke was an explosive motion through the horizontal pedal position rather than an even spinning motion. Even when Alberto Contador climbs out of the saddle, he pogos back and forth to drive the pedals down instead of lifting the pedal on the up stroke.

I was experimenting with this idea in the spring before I got splattered. I'm picking up where I left off, now, so I'll see if I can adjust my technique and pick up some more wattage.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

not racing any time soon

I'm out of the cast, but my wrist is still relatively gimpy and the range of motion is probably about 50% of normal.  I cracked the scaphoid of my left wrist smack dab in the middle. That bone is notoriously slow to heal, and can turn into a total mess of complications, but mine seems to be doing pretty well so far. Hopefully after one or maybe two more ortho appointments, and yet another set of x-rays, this whole injury episode will be in the rear view mirror.

I rode the TOTV TT yesterday to see where my fitness is--the short answer is lousy. I really wasn't expecting much, though. I haven't managed to do any intense training since May 20th. Also, it's going to be a few weeks until I can use my arms to generate any force. I just sort of rest my left hand in a neutral position and carry my upper body weight on my right arm and back. It's actually not as uncomfortable as it sounds. But I'm stuck in one position on the bike using the same muscles all the time, so they wear out quickly.

I think I'll build back up in a few weeks, though. It doesn't seem like I lost much leg strength, just the endurance to crank for an extended period. I'll add some running into the mix and do plyos and weights too.

I got out today for an actual training ride on Sherman Road. I went west from Bass Lake over the rollers. I think that route is a pretty good measure of my fitness. When I'm in good shape, I can push it over all those little hills without cracking. Today, I made it half way up the first one and popped, but once I recovered, I managed to do some decent efforts.

I decided I won't be racing for a few weeks at least.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I was in my car in Chardon when I saw a person staring at a cell phone screen while driving. Contrary to almost every stereotype, it was not a teenager, it was a dude in his mid sixties driving a big pickup. I decided to blast my horn. It obviously shocked him back to reality and scared the shit out of him.

I'm not going to get up on a high horse about driving--I'm not the best or most careful driver in the world. But it's just crazy that so many people get completely absorbed with their cell phone while driving. A car driving at just 35 mph is as potentially dangerous as a gun or a partial stick of dynamite.

I think I'll do that from now on--Honk At People Who Are Texting.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

itching to go

5/20 Rudely Interrupted on the way to a Personal Best

I'm just about done with the cast--it comes off on the morning of Thursday, July 8. By now, it's completely disgusting. It feels like I've been wearing a gym sock for three of the warmest weeks of the year without washing it or removing it. I have to say, though, that that 3M fiberglass tape is some really cool stuff. It's strong, moldable, and sets instantly.

It's going to be interesting to see where my form is. My training volume was chopped way down in May and June, normally my peak months, and obviously I've been pretty limited in the types of workouts I can do over the past several weeks. So, I'm looking to rebuild and hopefully set myself up for a solid second half of the season, and a solid cyclocross season.

Hopefully, I'll see everyone out there pretty soon!