Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Against The Wind 2

Wow, that cold air mass that swung down from Canada really kicked us into fall in a big hurry. Last week, temps in the 80's, now 40's to 50's are in store. I ended up doing my zone 2 hill work yesterday instead of Sunday. Pure murder is all I can say, into the wind at least. It's hard to dress for this weather, but it comes down to layers. I got a new Pro Bike Kit long sleeve jersey and Castelli bib knicks a couple of weeks back and can put them to use now. I just need to find a good long fingered glove that's not too insulated for this kind of weather. I hate sweaty hands, but not cold hands. Do I ask for too much?

I don't know if you are like me, but this weather kicks in the comfort food cravings. It's fortunate that there is a pasta us diabetics can enjoy without having to take a butt load of insulin. Dreamfields
pasta is a low carb, high fiber product that tastes great and doesn't spike your blood sugar. I took my normal dose of Novolog the first time I ate it, and had a low sugar episode that evening. It is as good as advertised.

Speaking of the wind, I'm hating it a lot less these days. I'm not sure why, maybe it's just an acceptance of something you can't control. Or, maybe it's that I've gotten stronger, my bike is lighter and so am I. My climbing abilities still suck, but you can't have everything. I guess maybe I can, after all Cadel Evans just won a world championship.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday's Plan

Today, I get to ride hill intervals as part of my Polar training plan. After a 20 minute zone 2 warm up, it's 3 minutes at a cadence of 50-60 uphill in zone 3, a six minute cool down in zone 2, then repeat 5 more times. Lester River Road should be perfect for the task. Can you say "flaming quads"? Feel the burn !!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Stuff

Today was supposed to be a 3 hour hill zone 2 ride. How the hell can I stay in zone 2 on a hilly ride ? Walk ? Beats me. I didn't do it because my blood sugar has been all over the map today, the lower part of the map mostly. This causes me to be tired, edgy, lethargic, but mostly, some gastric distress that doesn't go well with a bike ride. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

Yesterday's zone 3 interval session was a true suffer fest. High cadence accelerations for an hour left my quads very sore this morning. First time in a while I've felt this way, and to be honest, it's refreshing knowing the pain means progress for a change. I'm fired up to see how I do on the hilly route I plan on riding tomorrow. Should be fun.

Speaking of fun, my new bike is a gas for intervals. It responds and just accelerates when getting on it out of the saddle and stomping hard. A the while, riding as smooth as can be. That's with 140 psi in the tires.

BTW, my old bike is for sale on Craigslist if you know anyone looking. Great components if some one is looking to upgrade an older frame, or just wants a new ride.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training Day

Today was a fabulous day to be out on a bike. Perfect temps, sunny, dry, all you could ask for. Now for the million dollar question - when are we going to pay? Knock on wood, hopefully not for a long while. We deserve a little global warming around these parts occasionally.

My 2 week Polar heart rate based training camp called for a 2.5 hour zone 2 high cadence spin. High cadence meaning 90 or above. It's not so easy to keep your heart rate low while spinning that fast, but it does make you aware of what's going on at all times. I can see why the pros can ride all day while turning some serious r's.

I headed down the Munger Trail from Carlton south. After the last 4 sessions, this was an easy day. Sunday was a 20 minute zone 2 warm-up, a 1 hour zone 3 session, low (50-60 rpm) followed by 100 rpm spin, the back to the low, power building grind again. Then a 20 minute zone 2 cool down to end the day. I'm finding that 20 - 30 minute cool down to really be the key to being fresh the next day.

Now that I've figured out the ideal blood sugar readings to start my rides at, and how often to add some fuel, the bonk hasn't reared it's ugly head. My legs just turned the pedals as prescribed and the time flew by. Bucking a head wind on the way back caused me to go out of zone a bit now and then, but the alarm would sound telling me to back off. Also, the new bike rides and handles so well, fatigue doesn't seem to come into play. Tomorrow calls for flat, high speed intervals, then Friday, a long hill zone 2. I can't wait.....

An interesting side note - This month's Road Bike Action magazine reviewed the bike I just acquired, the Motobecane Immortal Force, and gave it a very favorable rating, especially for handling, ride and value. They also reviewed the Ellis custom frames and were very impressed. Doug's custom Ellis looks a lot nicer than the one featured in the article. His has much nicer paint work and a more custom look over all. Cool to see both in the same mag.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday Ride

Sunday, I decided to ride the Gitchie Gammi Trail from Gooseberry Falls on north. It was not what I was expecting. Scenic, yes, a good training trail, well, no. A lot of people have told me what a great ride this is, but none were true cyclists. I guess if you're just trundling along and wathcing the scenery, it would be fine, but if you want to ride hard, no so. Very rolling with no rhythm to it, the pavement is super slow ( I thought I had flatted a couple of times ) and bumpy. The kind of bumps that you don't really see, but makes you feel like your tires have an egg on them. Not to my liking, but it does have a couple of climbs to test your self on. Several people were walking their bikes up them, so I didn't feel so bad in my 34 X 28 gears and heart rate into zone 5.

Speaking of heart rate, I've started a program from Polar's web site designed to increase my climbing abilities, based on heart rate and cadence. This a 2 week training camp style program that gets you used to riding different terrains at different heart rates and cadences, all tailored to your current fitness, age, and weight. After reading up on how H/R training works, it makes sense to me and is worth a try. Staying in the prescribed zones and cadences is was tough the first 2 sessions, but after the 3rd, it's getting easier. Even though I wasn't in the "groove " yesterday, the one longish climb seemed easier than usual. We'll see how it goes. Today's ride calls for a half hour zone 2 warm up, a 1 hour zone 3 mix of high the low cadences, then a half hour zone 2 to cool down. Fun training that hopefully with help with the weight loss, too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

That's Spooky The Jungle Cat. If he's not sleeping in a chair on the front porch or back deck, in my van, or in the cool grass along side the garage, he's surveying his domain from the trees in the front yard. He has no fear, jumping from branch to branch like a primate. He also protects the other three felines in the household from the neighborhood stray cats and dogs that threaten the peace. Super cat if there ever was one.

Speaking of cats, I had ordered a Cateye Double wireless computer for the new ride. It was back ordered, so I ordered a Polar CS200 wireless with heart rate monitor. My old h/r monitor died a while back, so when this came up for cheap, I bit. If it works as advertised, it will be a great training aid. One can download all the ride info via the microphone built into my lap top. Polar also offers free training plans via their web site. I'm starting a two week plan for improving hill riding this coming Friday. It's based on heart rate, intensity, cadence, etc. I'm really interested to see how much I can improve.

I'm glad to see Jeff from Biking Duluth is back to work and is able to commute again. I would have to bet hernia surgery is no fun, but riding to a new job is. Envious, I am. Good luck at SMDC, Jeff!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Please Read This Dis-Climber

I am not a climber. Now Doug, of MN Bike Commuter fame, is a climber. He and I set out for a little ride this morning from the start of the Munger Trail, but Doug wanted to go to Carlton via Jay Cook Park and take the Munger Trail back instead. I agreed, after all, I've got my sleek, new carbon fiber wonder bike and it needs to do some climbing. But, it's engine needs some work. Said engine is hauling around an extra 40 lbs of ballast to be effective in the hills of Jay Cook State Park. The engine even stalled out a few times due to spending too much time at red line.

Doug's engine, on the other hand, was hitting on all cylinders and cruised up those same hills ala Alberto Contidor. Him and his Ellis custom bike are a thing of beauty in the hills, a well oil climbing machine. I was sorry I held him back, but he put up with the fat man and actually seemed to enjoy our ride. He's a top notched riding partner and I look forward to dropping some more weight as to try to keep up with him in the hills. But, all that said, today's tour was a very nice way to enjoy this fantastic fall weather we're having. I needed a break from all the projects I have going and so did Doug. Now, back to work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

The back yard was looking like hell. The old deck off of the back of the house was in rough shape, actually it was partial removed, leaving only a 3 foot wide landing. What a mess. I tore it off completely and built a new 8 X 10 deck. I will add another 12 X 12 section as finances permit. At least now the gas grille is off the ground and the back door usable.

Yesterday, I put in another 30 mile ride on the Munger Trail from Duluth to Carlton and back. I was only planning to go for an hour, but I felt really good, so did my new bike. It was one of those days where you just seem to float along, nothing holds you back, and you can put the power down seemingly effortlessly. The stretch along the Thompson Dam was surreal. I'm not sure how fast I was going ( new computer hasn't arrived yet), but it felt much faster than normal. There was a tail wind, that helped, but part of it is the new bike. So smooth and quiet, not to mention light, it seemed to disappear, leaving nothing but the air rushing by to notice.

In fact the ride went by much faster than normal. Over 10 minutes faster over 30 miles. L asked me if the new bike was worth the wait, and I think that proved it. Yes, definitely worth it.

Next up on the list, install the new storm door in the back entrance. I love progress !!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Test Ride

Today, I thought I would take the new bike out for a longer test ride than the 15 minutes I squeezed in yesterday. About an hour would be a good measure of how comfortable a rig this would be. The geometry is a whole lot different than my old bike, much more aggressive than I thought it would be. I road up the Munger Trail for comparison, since I ride that a lot. There are bone rattling bumpy stretches and long grades, with speeds varying for 13 to 30 mph.

The first thing I noticed is how quiet it rides. The Immortal Force frame seems to soak up the bumps in a way my old ride couldn't. No rattling over bumps, the chain doesn't make that metallic noise when hitting bumps like it did on the old bike. None of the road vibration makes it up to your hands and it's not skittish when hitting bumps you didn't see. It tracks much straighter when you take your hands off the bars, not that I do that much, but I thought I would try.

As far as the components go, the new Ultegra 6700 is fantastic. The cable routing is very clean, and shifting is flawless. The FSA carbon seat post is my favorite, very simple to adjust and doesn't slip once set like the Ritchie post on the old bike would. I've got a FSA post on my MTB and for the money, I can't find anything better. Speaking of Ritchie, the bar and stem are Ritchie PRO aluminum series. The bar is the Biomax model and has very nice hand positions. It helps that the new Ultegra hoods are longer and flatter than the older series, making riding the hoods more pleasurable than ever for me. The FSA SL-K compact crank has a different finish and graffics that last years, and is a little lighter. It spins very smoothly.

Now for the brakes. I had Cane Creek SCR-3 braes on my old bike, and was going to replace them with Ultegras. This one came with SCR-6 brakes and work light years better. I may change to Kool-Stop pads, but for now, these are fine. These are a very new model brake and aren't even shown on Cane Creek's web site, so maybe they listened to all the complaints about their older models and did a little more development on the SCR-6 models.

The Vittoria Rubino Pro tires gave me some grief when mounting. The rear didn't seat right and blew out as I was lubing the chain. I put in another tube and carefully pumped it up first to 20 lbs, then 60, then 110 when it let go. The 3rd tube was fine. A couple of miles into my ride today, the front tried to do the same thing, but I saw it start to bulge, stopped and let the air out. after reseating it and reinflating, it was fine. I rode 30 more miles without incident. More care is required with these tires, I guess. As far as performance, they roll smoother and far faster than the Kendas that I had on the American Classic rims before.

All in all, I very happy with the bike. It exceeds my expectations in every way. The finish is gorgeous, a beautiful pearl white. I've always liked the color, especially on a Cadillac DeVille. It seems so many carbon frames are that black weave, so it's a nice contrast. I know 32 miles isn't that much of a test, but it performed far beyond my hopes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What I Did

This is my solution to my climbing/gearing problem. Carbon fiber with a compact crank and a 11/28 cassette. Shimano's latest Ultegra 6700 group with it's Dura Ace performance at an affordable price. And new cable routing. The crank is FSA's updated mega-exo carbon 50/34 compact. I swapped my the Fizik seat from my old bike, along with the wheel set. The new one came with Mavic Askium Race wheels which are much heavier than my American Classics. Plus, the American Classics are pretty much bomb proof, still being true after a ton of hammering on our rough, Roubaix style roads. Not even a loose spoke. The Vittoria Rubino Pros seem to be a well liked tire on the various chat sites, so I put them on and put my old Kendas on the Mavics.

These changes got the weight under 16 pounds, not the lightest carbon rig around, but I can't complain. The ride is smooth and responsive, it soaks up bumps corners like it's on rails. Plus, it's very sturdy feeling, not fragile at all. I've got a new Cat-eye wireless computer on the way, and a carbon bottle cage. I am one happy guy !!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What To Do ?

I have a dilemma. This bike serves me well, it's got a nice ride, component group, reliability, and all, so what's the problem ? Hills, that's what. I would like to upgrade to a compact crank and a 11-27 cassette. The FSA SL-K compact runs around $400.00 dollars. An Ultegra 6600 cassette, another $100.00 That would make a more climber friendly machine for sure. So what did I do ? Check in tomorrow for the answer.

BTW, the garage is a work in progress. And no, that Harley is not ours. It's hopefully leaving soon so I can arrange everything and still park a car in side.