Monday, October 22, 2012

Training with O2 Saturation

This past weekend, I was feeling nearly back to normal after surgery, and I was able to get out for a ride after a month of inactivity. I got out the pulse oximeter and went out on Sherman Road. I went West from Bass Lake Road and went hard up each hill. I hit the first little hill, and went at what I thought was a very hard pace. I stopped at the top and measured the O2 saturation--it barely budged from 98%. I wasn't really breathing hard, but I would have gauged the effort as "hard" based on my power output.

The second hill is much steeper, but it's pretty short. I drilled it so I was way anaerobic. I had the feeling of heaviness creep into my legs and shoulders and forearms. I stopped at the top and was gasping for air when I measured my blood's O2 saturation. Some O2 meters, apparently the one I have included, regard saturation below 92% as an error, so it didn't display anything until I recovered a little bit. That was probably one of the more intense efforts I've done on a bike.

I repeated the effort on the third hill and after that I was completely fried. I pedaled squares for the rest of the ride. I'm wondering what will happen if I do short sessions like that instead of the traditional longer tempo rides and intervals.

It really would be great to have the oxygen saturation statistic along with power output, heart rate, etc... The finger tip clip-on O2 meter is usable but very limited. There's still no "sports" O2 meter--the products that are on the market are for medical monitoring of people who are in bed. I am getting back to that project for this winter.

Middle Age of Oil

This post is a little bit off topic, but it's worth writing about.

The following chart is from the book Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak--it blew my mind. Note that the book was published in 2006 and these statistics fluctuate per year, so current figures are certainly different--though the proportions will be about the same.

CountryProduction (millions of barrels/day)Number of Wells
Saudi Arabia 7.7 1,560
Russia 7.4 41,192
USA 5.8 521,070

This chart prompted me to look at current data. Here's a chart compiled from data at the United States Government Energy Information Administration ( web site. This chart is based on 2009 statistics.

The 2009 average US production per well was 12.9 barrels per day (call it 13). The average well in Saudi Arabia (based on the 2006 book figures) produces 4,935 barrels per day. (A barrel, by the way, is 42 US gallons). If you want to increase oil production in the USA by 1 million barrels (and dent our need of 19 million barrels per day) you need to drill:

1 million / 13 bpd = 76,923 wells. Assuming a 100% success rate and the average production per well is about the same.

I wondered how shale oil production has changed the picture. North Dakota oil production is still climbing. Currently, the oil fields there produce more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day--around 3% of US daily oil consumption. (The US military uses somewhere between 300,000 and 800,000 barrels per day.) However, the current average production per Bakken Shale well is around 140 barrels per day. So, to replace all foreign oil--let's call it 15 million barrels/day, you need to drill around:

15 million barrels per day / 140 barrels per day = 107,142 wells.

There are currently 4,458 wells in the ND Bakken shale (from here). Between 2010 and 2011 754 new oil producing wells were added. To drill 107,142 wells at that rate would take 142 years. (Of course, the oldest wells would be long depleted, plus you'd run out of places to drill!)

You can gaze into the future of ND oil production with the chart, below, from the EIA that shows Montana oil production per year. Montana oil production (from the same geological formation) boomed early in the 2000s, then production declined, and new drilling activity shifted to ND. Check out an animated GIF here.

If you remove the supply of cheap oil from the middle east, is it feasible to drill thousands of wells per year in places like North Dakota?

Unfortunately, it looks like we reached the beginning of the end of cheap oil from the middle east, and maybe we're already into a new era. I think the chart below (from here) sums up the story. The IEA (International Energy Agency) said we probably hit that peak in 2006. (that report predicts total oil production including sources like tar sands will peak in 2035.)

In spite of persistently high oil prices (especially up to the implosion of the real estate market in 2008) and a booming economy world wide from 2005 up to 2008, world oil production was flat. That really means middle east oil production was flat. The chart below (from EIA) shows "spare" OPEC oil production capacity was below 2.5 million barrels per day during the period. Was that the peak? If that was the peak, then things will muddle along for a few years before OPEC oil production starts to decline.

Every aspect of our economy and the habits of people in the US have been conditioned by 100+ years of cheap oil. The assumption that cheap oil will last forever is baked into government planning, every loan that's made by a bank, etc... Hopefully, we can make a transition to using substitute fuels--like natural gas--before some crisis hits.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stitched Up

A couple of months ago, I was starting to get back into the groove of doing training rides that were aimed at preparing me for racing the CX season. That would then be the basis for training through the winter, and hopefully road racing again in 2013. But something was wrong. One day, I'd get out and do a really solid ride, the next I'd be slow. I didn't feel tired or anything, just no power.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I went out for a run and felt pain like I'd never experienced before. It felt a like a hot poker in the lower abdomen. It was enough to make me go to the doctor. Yada yada. Thursday I had hernia surgery. Apparently, it was pretty bad. Possibly something that had taken two or three years to develop. I never even noticed.

I am amazed at how well the surgery went. I was walking around with little difficulty an hour after being sliced open and stitched up. The next day, per the doctors orders, I walked about 3 hours. Tomorrow, I'll get out and ride if the weather cooperates.

I'll probably take it easy for at least a couple of weeks, then start trying to fulfill that need for speed.