Monthly Archives: June 2007

Older cycling posts…

The posts that I referenced in my comparative insanity all came from my work(ish) blog. You can find all the cycling posts listed here.

Progressive insanity…

Cycling is an exercise in progressive insanity. No matter where you’re at, there’s always somebody who’s just that little bit crazier than you are, no, not the total whackos that do things that are ridiculous, but just that next little step…

It all starts with riding an hour on the flattest roads that you have around, and finding that pretty challenging. And maybe one day, you ride for two hours, and it wipes you out, but you’re happy you did it.

And then meet somebody who is doing a charity ride, and you think “maybe I can ride 50 miles” at once – it’s pretty intimidating, but you ride some more, and then you finish it, and you’re happy, but dead.

The next year, you decide that you’ll do a century. This is a real milestone, and you can tell its a real milestone by the reaction of the people you mention it to. “In a day?” they say. And you do the century, but you’re slow, and while you finish, you don’t have a lot of fun.

The next year, you do a bit better in the century, and then you do a multi-day ride.

And then you start riding with a group – not a hardcore group, but a group that just likes to ride. You get a new bike – a fast one – and suddenly that century isn’t a goal event but a training ride on the way to a double. That two-hour ride that used to be a goal event is now the minimum – you don’t leave the house for less than two hours. And you start adding hills to your rides *on purpose*. You even start up a website devoted to hills.

You start looking for the hilly organized rides. You do one, two, three, four, and in there you throw in a double century.

And then you decide that RAMROD looks like fun. It’s 143 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing.

A long time ago at my job, I met a co-worker who was into cycling, and he told me about RAMROD. I had driven the route that he rode, and I thought that he was absolutely bonkers.

And now, in three weeks, I will also be officially bonkers.

The scary part is that as I’ve progressed, I still know people who are just marginally more crazy than I am, and that makes me seriously worried.

You’re working too hard

I get the opportunity to see lots of new riders on our group rides, and there’s a common thread that shows up over and over.

Nearly everybody who is new is working out too hard, and many people are working out too much. What do I mean by this?

Well, to get better at cycling, you need to focus on both your anaerobic and aerobic systems. But the way you focus on these is totally different.

Your aerobic system training is best done at a fairly light intensity – one at which you can still talk comfortably. This is sometimes known as “base miles” or “LSD (Long Steady Distance)”. This sort of riding helps your body get better at getting oxygen to your muscles, better at using your stored flat, and (very importantly) builds up your muscles and ligaments to deal with increased loads. Pros and races put in 1000s of miles at these sort of intensities.

I think of this sort of riding as setting your baseline.

Once the baseline is set – which is a 6-8 week process (or more) – then you can add some intensity to the mix to work on the anaerobic system. This involves interval work – things like 1 minute all out, 1 minute recovery, repeated 6 times, or hill repeats, where you do the same hillclimb over and over. The details are a subject of another post, but these workouts increase your ability to produce power, and your ability to deal with short exertions and recover quickly. And they’re very small in quantity – you might only do 2 sets of 4 intervals in a workout.

This is also the time to add in tempo rides. Tempo rides are done right below around your lactate threshold (another big subject, but where your legs start to hurt when you’re out of breath is a decent starting point) and last from 15 minutes to perhaps 30 minutes. Tempo rides improve your ability to deal with lactic acid, so that you can ride at a higher heart rate but still staying aerobic.

What I see in beginning riders is working out as hard as they can for the whole ride. And that works fairly well when you start riding – frankly, pretty much anything works well when you start riding – but it has problems once you start to get some fitness. That pace is fast enough that there is a significant anaerobic component, which is much faster than optimal to train your aerobic system. And, even though it feels like you’re going really hard, you are riding too fast to be able to do your intervals all out.

So, if you want to get better, you need to get in the base miles, and then you need to have focused workouts of very high intensity with limited duration.

Helpful tips for travelling athletes…

Since I tried out the CTS Classic Training last year, I’m still on their email list.

Today, I got some helpful advice for athletes who travel to events.

  1. First, create a checklist of what you will need before, during, and after your event
  2. Second, do not wait to pack your bags
  3. Finallky, set aside a few important items for your carry-on, such as shoes, helmet, and pedals

Wow, what insightful tips those are. I never would have thought of creating a list, or packing my bags ahead of time.

I can add a few that I think might be more helpful:

  1. Go online and find your accomodations ahead of time. Print out a map, and if you have time, the location of grocery/convenience stores.
  2. Pre-pack items into gallon-sized ziploc bags so they’re already grouped. If you have stuff to put in your jersey pocket, put in all in one place so you don’t have to go searching.
  3. Don’t assume you can locate decent food and refreshements. Plan ahead


Climb4Cancer ’07 will be on August 4, 2007 benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

This goes up infamous Zoo Hill. Last time I rode the Zoo, I think I did it in about 27 minutes all the way to the top. The time trial will be “Zoo Light”, which is only about 1000′ of elevation gain in 2 miles. If I was in equivalent shape, I’d be expect around 20 minutes, but I’m hoping to do it in less time than that.

Last year’s winner did it in 11:34.


Four down..

I ride Tuesday and Thursday night on a ride sponsored by Cascade Bicycle club.

This time of year, the weather gets nice and we get a lot of new riders, which makes things a bit more… exciting… than usual.

There are a few of us in the group who try to watch out for everybody – including the new riders. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn’t.

So, last night, we were in the parking lot getting ready to go, and one of our new riders fell over. Now, we’ve all fallen over when we’ve been stopping (I once did in front of approximately a zillion riders at a century rest stop), so that wasn’t any big deal. That was one.

Then, we’re pulling out onto our main street (W. Lake Sammamish, if you know the Redmond area), and one of the front riders slows down to stay at the corner (we use corner people so the group knows where to go), and a new rider runs into her, falls over, and another rider runs into her and falls over. So, we’re like 3 minutes from the start, and we’ve had three riders go down. A few bumps and scrapes, but no real problems.

We then headed down south, where we did a few climbs, including the very painful Somerset Drive.

On the way back home, one of our regular riders had a car turn out in front of him, and he got to play stuntman. Also no injuries, but enough to call police and the aid car, and for me to take the group back so our ride leader could deal with the situation.

I rode all last year without being near any crashes. This year I’ve had two people crash right in front of me, one crash a couple riders ahead, and another crash in my group.

Who is RiderX?

RiderX is a serious recreational cyclist.

And by that, I mean that, in an average week during the season, RiderX will ride anywhere from about 40 miles to perhaps 150 miles.

RiderX likes talking about himself in the third person, but he’s already tired of this overly pretentious post, and is going to start writing like a normal person.

So, what’s the deal, and why am I here?

Well, I’ve written a work-related blog for a few years, and have sometimes written cycling-related posts. But recently, I’ve wanted to write more about cycling, and I don’t want to do that on my work blog. So, here we are…