Archive for April, 2007

My last three rides have been awesome. Friday I rode with some guys from work and I was leading the bunch up 53rd/Livingston Mt. I was able to put the hammer down at will. Last year and even earlier this year I was sucking their wheels when the going went up. On Sunday, I did 90 minutes on the rollers with two sets of intervals. The first set was 4×5 minutes at a tempo pace and the second set was 6×1 minute at just sub LT with a quick cadence. Then today I did my 20 mile hill ride around Prune Hill. I was smoking up the hills and I know there is lots of room for improvement with more wight loss and better fitness.

The last three days (Friday-Sunday) I ate a normal amount — I ate enough to maintain my weight at my activity level. That may be one of the reasons my legs felt so good. Time to get back to the grind and feel hungry again.

Even though I took it easy for a couple months over the winter, I feel like I’m building on the gains I made last season. I just hope that I’m able to stay strong and not suffer burnout just when the cyclocross season starts up.

This loop is a staple of my lunch time riding routine. It’s a 22 mile route through some farmland, lake shore, and subdivisions. The vertical is a very moderate 800 feet. The climbing is primarily limited to the six or seven (mostly) short hills along the route. Here’s the gmap-pedometer map and a linky to the interactive route.

So let’s ride …

  • Head out of work via the back gate and start out on a long flat stretch that’s great for warming up the legs.
  • That’s Green Mountain Golf Course on the right at mile 5.5. I hear they are selling out to developers. Another sub-D coming to a location near you. To me a golf course is an under utilized cyclocross course.
  • The first hill is at mile 6. It’s about the steepest hill but fairly short. Power up this thing and coast down the other side.
  • Along 68th street (mile 8.5 to 10.5) are a bunch of llama and alpaca ranches. This stretch was chip sealed last year and the gentle downhill at mile 9 is deceptively hard pedaling.
  • Between mile 10 and 11 are two short hills. The first is quick and tasty. The second seems a little more taxing.
  • Mile 13 is the high point and now there’s a nice downhill section to Lacamas Lake.
  • The ride along the lake is nice since there’s no development on this side. There will be guys fishing at a turnout around 15.5 regardless of the weather.
  • A short climb punctuates the end of the lake (mile 16).
  • The mile long climb up Lake St. starts just after mile 17. This would be a great hill for repeats except for the traffic. The explosion in new home construction means regular rock trucks rumbling by.
  • The last climb starts at mile 19.5. The top is the steepest grade of the ride — maybe 8 percent.
  • It’s mostly downhill back to work. In the summer, the afternoon wind will come out of the west and make this a bit more challenging in a few months.
  • There is a light at mile 21.5 that always catches me. It’s in the middle of a nice descent.

And that’s it. Back to the old grindstone.

So I changed the blog name. In case you cats don’t watch the euro cyclocross races, “laatste ronde” means final round or bell lap. And an “achtervolger” is a rider in a chase group.

Same great taste, just a stylish new name.

I went for a little hill ride yesterday. Prune Hill is a nice little bump a couple miles from work and I sometimes head up the hill for a climbing workout. The climbs aren’t very long but there are plenty of steep sections. Most of the roads to the top have sections where the grade is in the double digits. Here’s the gmap-pedometer map of my route and a handy linky to the interactive version as well.

Now lets head out …

  • Head out of work onto 34th. The climbing starts immediately. The route is the least steep way to the top of Prune Hill. It’s a stair step climb with no steep grades. The climbing finishes around mile 2.75.
  • Zoom down Sierra and Lake to the low point. Hang a right onto the new road (just before mile 6) into the new sub-D. This is a steep climb with sections of at least 15%. There are a couple “landings” where the grade backs off a little. The top is pretty casual as well.
  • Fly down Fargo to the paper mill and hang a right up 10th (mile 8.5) and another right up Forest Home. Forest Home is just under a mile in length (.85) and averages about 10%. It’s my favorite.
  • Head up and over the hill crest and back down 16th. Hang a loogie on Brady and another onto Macintosh (just after mile 11). Start climbing. Mac is another stair step climb with only a couple steeper sections. It’s also the one with the least vertical.
  • Crest on Astor and hang a right on Forest home and reverse the trip back up Fargo. The initial sections of Fargo are pretty steep (mile 14.5) — probably 15% at least. Then it backs off to a nice 5-6% and gradually tapers to nothing at the top.

And that’s it. From there it’s mostly downhill back to work. We’ve only gone about 20 miles but managed to get in over 2,500 feet of vertical. Pretty cool. Are your legs toasted? Mine sure are.

While I rode the rollers this past Sunday, I watched some cross DVDs. One of the races I checked out was the ’85 worlds. There was only 26 minutes of footage and the picture quality wasn’t great but it was still fun to watch. Some of my thoughts …

  1. Toe clips! Those guys were fast at getting back in after the remounts. I know they have tons of practice but still …
  2. Barcons. ’85 was before STI shifting so bar end shifters were THE technology. Lots more racing in the drops than you seen these days.
  3. Snow. There’s been snow at worlds many times but the course looked very slippery.
  4. Richard Groenendaal. RG was hanging a few seconds off the lead three and finished fourth. I’m not a huge Gronendaal fan but that dude has been racing at a high level for a looooong time. He’s been on the podium several times this season at big races. That’s 22 seasons of racing.

I also watched the race from this past season that Albert won. The pros are fast and skilled. Watching them makes me want to get faster and better.

How do I fit in training time around family obligations? I commute to work by bike. It’s only 6 miles each way so I supplement that with a lunch time ride of 70-80 minutes. That means I put in about 8-10 hours on the bike during the week with no rides longer than 22-25 miles. That works out just fine for cyclocross since my races aren’t much longer than an hour. Lately I’ve been getting around 90 minutes on Sunday on the rollers while my son naps.

I’ve made the choice to make my riding as transparent as possible to my family because in twenty years I’m sure I won’t be wishing I’d spent more time riding my bike. My wife and two children are my first priority and I have curtailed my racing ambitions appropriately. That said, I’d like to race at as high a level as I can given my time constraints.

This spring, my first order of business is to lose weight. After the holidays (lots of food and not so much riding) I had put on ten pounds (192) over the weight I raced at last season (mid to low 180’s). Last season’s racing weight is at least 15 pounds heavier than I should be. I have a target of weighing 165 pounds by June 4. Over the past four weeks I’ve lost ten pounds so that means I’m 182 pounds right now. I’ll need to lose seventeen more over the next eight weeks.

Since the cyclocross season is pretty far distant, I’m not doing structured intervals yet. What I am doing is riding some moderately hilly terrain at lunch. I power up the hills and then recover on the descents and flats. There are a couple of long low grades where I incorporate some tempo like riding as well. Once a week I hit the hills on Prune Hill. There are seven ways to the top of Prune Hill and most of them boast sections steeper than 10%. Thus far I’ve eschewed the two roads with sections above 15% but I’ll be mixing them in pretty soon. I can get more than 2,000 feet of climbing crammed into 20 miles or less. There’s a killer .84 mile climb that averages about 10% that makes for some challenging hill repeats.

I am considering racing some local weekly training races over the summer. If I decide to do that, I’ll start some intervals soon and plan on structuring a two peak training plan. If I bail on those races, then I’ll begin intervals in August. In early September, I’ve got a family vacation planned so I’ll have five consecutive days off the bike which should help me fully recover before really ratcheting up the intensity to build for the season.

As far as the season goes, the early races are training. The later season races like district championships and the USGP dates are the ones I’ll be shooting for. I’d really love to score a top ten finish in a Crusade race and get in the top twenty at one of the USGP races.