Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3rd day in a row

I'm not sure I've ever ridden a "real" bike ride three days in a row. But I suspect I've reached that weird (and fabled) point where riding is the high point of my day.
It used to be cooking dinner.
I'm sure dinner will return to priority as soon as the weather turns cold.

I rode my regular loop. That's how I feel about it now. It's 25 miles and covers the Scatchet Head, Ewing, and Bayview climbs.
I pushed a bit harder than usual and I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I covered the route in 100 minutes, down from 135 for the last round!

My back aches a bit, probably because I used arms and back on a couple of stretches to get more power to my legs.

My doctor this morning tells me I am still anemic, possibly a bone marrow thing. I don't care. My LDL is dropping, the HDL climbing very quickly. Good, but I don't much care about that, either.

I care that my bike got all muddy, that I got some mocha Clif-shot on the handlebars
I gotta figure out how to keep riding when the rain returns.
Is that wrong?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What part of the brain?

What part of the brain makes your legs stop pedaling when you most need them to keep going?

Yesterday I did not feel like riding the bike, but it'd been two days off already, so I got on, vowing to take an easy ride. My back hurt and my quads were complaining.
I rode easily through Langley (avoiding the traffic from the Island County Fair) and got as far as Bayview and Half-Link Bikes (closed Sundays).
I got off and sat down. Pooped. I thought I'd maybe ride out the flat part of Bayview toward Sunlight Beach. As I crossed Highway 525, I hit a tiny tiny tiny uphill and my legs just stopped turning! "Why?" I yelled in my mind. A few more turns and I was onto the flat.
Why do my legs stop like that? I assume some part of my brain has leaped down the path that includes thoughts like "This is stupid. Why do this? It hurts. Stop pedaling. Walk." and just short-circuits straight to the "stop pedaling" command.
I can always override it, but how do I get into control of that reflex? How do I skip right to the "keep pedaling" bit?

Anyway, I felt better motoring out Bayview, so I took the little uphill, thinking I'd see what Ewing Road looks like from the other side. It wasn't too hard. I hit Maxwelton, figured I take the single hill there and almost be home.
Then I remembered that Campbell Road connects to Cultus Bay Road, even closer to home. I've never even driven Campbell, so feeling good, I hung a right.
And came face to face with a very nasty climb! Cadence dropped to about 50rpm in Granny Gear, HRM telling me I was at 90% of maximum, the point where breath is raging in and out of the mouth at a very high rate.
And it just kept climbing. My excuse is that I didn't know how bad it was going to be. My point of pride is that I haven't had to walk a hill yet this year.

I got home at last and read a mere 800 calories burned for 18 miles. That seems unfair somehow.

Today I went out again, determined to ride an easy day. So with a sense of fair play, I rode Campbell the other direction. I might have gone down more quickly, but the road was covered with leaves (rain is due and the wind was blowing), so I kept on the brakes a bit more than usual. Visions of Tour de France crashes over the guard rail were playing behind my eyeballs.
Speaking of which, I'm currently fired-up about making a video of some of these rides! I watched a video showing how to make your own (cheap) camera mount for the handlebars; then I read that Cisco has dropped the Flip Video camera line. They can still be had cheaply (about $80). Cisco claims business went flat with the popularity of smart phones; maybe so, but I'm not hooking an iPhone to the handlebars.
How can you beat 2 hours of HD video for $80?

Anyway, my ride today was 18 miles, 900 calories.

But I'd sure like to shut off that "stop pedaling" pathway in my mind.
Any ideas?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saratoga Road Ride

We've lived on Whidbey for more than 8 years now, and the one road that has always seemed like a "killer" road for cycling is Saratoga Road between Langley and Freeland along the east side of Whidbey Island.

I guess it was inevitable that I try it.

I cycled into Langley this morning and headed out toward the Chocolate Farm and the little park. The first couple of hills served to get me well warmed-up, the HRM showing I was running about 152 beats per minutes. For my age, the 100% level is 160.

The climbs (two major ones) weren't as bad as I had feared, helped by being content to just keep the pedals turning. In my lowest gear (29 gear-inches), I could only make about 50rpm.
I'd say the only negative part of the climb is that the shoulder is almost non-existant. The line at lane's edge is in some places only a few inches from the weeds.

I took a break in Freeland at the park, stretched and ate, and came back over Goss Lake road. This, too, seems to be getting easier. Lone Lake, Andreason, Bayview, Langley, and home. Twenty-nine miles.

I've marked the route in two-tone red, the stronger colors marking the uphill.
It's a good ride, not as scary as I'd feared.
You can't ask for more than that. And I hit 44mph on the downhill!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Riding uphill

Every year, I watch the Tour de France. I would hear about climbs of 6%, 8%, etc. That means, of course, a slope of X feet per hundred. I thought that a climb of 6 feet in 100 was not so steep.

I was wrong.

The first hill I'm showing here climbs 180' in 3000'. That's 6%.
Here it is, the Scatchet Head road seen from Bailey Road (on Whidbey Island, WA):

I know that slopes are hard to show on a photo, but trust me on this: it's steep.
Happily, it's only 1 kilometer long. The TdF guys ride this slope for as much as 18km, and they finish at 9,000' elevation: very thin air!

I also tackle this climb, up Goss Lake road. Similar slope.

Why do I do this? I sometimes wonder.
The Tour de Whidbey is September 24. These two hills part of 50-mile southern loop I hope to ride. There are about four hills like this on that part of the tour.
I've ridden the entire loop piecemeal, saving the full 50 miles as a target "on the day"

I just thought you might like to know.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bicycling on Whidbey Island

If you've ever even driven around Whidbey Island, you know that there are precious few flat stretches of road. Certainly not as in Silicon Valley where I first began to ride a bike seriously.
Well, I say seriously, but I mean that there I sometimes commuted to work from Campbell to Palo Alto, a humble 17 miles. I could do that in under an hour.
That was 10 years ago now.

Up here on Whidbey, I rode a couple of times last year (after 8 years without riding) and was pooped after an 8-mile loop.
This year, during the Tour de France, I took my old Trek into the local bike shop (LBS), a nice place called "Half-Link Bicycles" in Bayview. My old Shimano RSX shifters had packed up after years of sitting idle.

Now, though, they are almost back to normal. Last Friday I rode 37 miles, including major climbs over Scatchet Head, Lancaster Road, and Goss Lake. A hard ride, right at 3 hours.
I took Saturday for the Coupeville Art/Craft show, Sunday to nap, and yesterday took a short recovery ride from Langley down to the Clinton Ferry dock, back up the hill, into Langley and home. Just 12 miles and one climb.

Today, though, I broke the trend and rode a second day in a row. It turns out I'm getting grumpy on days I don't ride.
So I rode out Cultus Bay, over French, up Bailey, and over Scatchet Head. This time, instead of going up Maxwelton to Ewing, I took a chance on Sills Road. It's a long steady climb but not a killer. Back to Bayview, where I tried to catch two older guys (older than I, if you can imagine), but they were in better shape and I lost them on the Brooks Hill climb. I just could not spin that fast on the grade.
I guess I need more training still.
Good thing I like to ride!