Houston, we have data!

I set up the bike on a fluid trainer and did the TrainRight video again, hoping with the bike in a fixed position, I would be less likely to fall off through all the exertion.

I found that by literally throwing the Cambiatta on the floor, it was now within wireless range of the speed and cadence sensors, and it was finally able to log data without falling asleep. It managed to log my whole workout. This was quite fortunate, because I was about to take all the transmitters off based on previous failed attempts. Also, while on the trainer, my normal bike computer doesn’t read cadence because the sensor magnet is on the front wheel, which is removed. No cadence, combined with no heart rate monitor, would give me no quantitative knowledge of what effort I was putting out at any given time during the workout. So I had to just use my own judgement as to how fast my legs were spinning, and how hard I was breathing or my legs hurting to know if I was following the instructions in the video.

Looking at the data afterwards, it shows that I did pretty much what the workout said. 3 Intervals at above 100rpm, 5 minutes each, followed by a SteadyState session of switching between 95rpm and 85 rpm at constant effort. It was quite satisfying to see proof that what I thought was happening, actually happened. So i’m starting to like the Cambiatta a little more. I just have to find a way to keep the device within range of the transmitters while on the road. It will be interesting to get the hreat rate data in there as well. I have borrowed a heart rate monitor from Kevin, and will be anxious to see all the data from the Mt. Diablo Challenge.

Perhaps the only negative thing from this workout was the cleanup, where I remove the bike from the fluid trainer. The fluid resistance element gets hot, and although I was warned, I still managed to burn myself on the heat sink. It hurt like a mo fo and really made for an unpleasent post-ride shower. But luckily it is only a minor burn and with ice,advil, and aloe, it’s already feeling better.

I also tried an electrolyte drink called Amino Vital. It tasted good enough to keep me drinking it, but I had some bloating, possibly from drinking it too fast. I might stick with the Endurolyte capsules for the race, since I don’t have a lot of time left to experiment, and have had two successful uses with it.

El Diablo, Mi Amigo

Sunday’s pracice ride up Mt. Diablo was somewhat useful. Kevin and I started at the usual school parking lot and Alicia took the car to drive up the mountain and hike around. We start climbing and Kevin asks me if I’m going to try for the 1 hour time. I said no, and my goals for the day were to ride right at aerobic threshold and see where my baseline is. That way on race day, I might know how much harder I can push and for how long would I need to go anaerobic to get the minutes I need to finish in under an hour. So He still says “See you at the top” to my dismay, and we still both rode different paces. Like I’m obligated to ride faster or something…

On the ride from the car to the base of the mountain, I had somehow lost my wrist watch heart rate monitor. I didn’t even notice it was missing until I started climbing. So I had no idea what my heart rate was going to be. So I had to rely on my labored breath to tell me when I was at my limit.

I kept it a pretty steady 9.8 mph for the first half of the ride, and a high cadence for hillclimbing, about 82rpm. This is so I wouldn’t fatigue the legs and avoid any cramps from overexertion. I also forced myself to drink water after every switchback, to try to avoid leg cramping and keep the muscles “lubricated”, and also to reduce the weight of excess water by the time I got to the top. I felt good, and would occasionally stop, turn down the hill to ride back to Kevin (who was never too far back) and then ride up with him, off the clock. So as to try to keep it a continuous workout.

about a quarter of the way up, there’s a flat section, where you even get some downhill before it climbs again. I used this section to make up time and could get the speed up to 15mph for short stretches, and also catch a long enough breath to drink more water. Usually when riding through a switchback, or steep section, I breathe too hard to drink water, and it seems to make things worse when you’re trying to gasp for air and send water down at the same time. So the flat section was a welcome respite.

At every change of grade, I made mentals notes of my cadence and gear selection, so that at race time, I wouldn’t waste time deciding what to choose. As long as I keep my heart rate and cadence steady, the gear selections will come easily. It’s just a matter of remembering to shift to make it either easier, or go faster (of course with extra effort)

At the halfway point, (the ranger station) I clocked 35 minutes climbing time, and felt great. Not on schedule for sub 1 hour, but maybe it’s not exactly halfway? Maybe I can make it up by pushing harder durin gthe race? As I Kevin and I took a short break, I popped an Endurolyte capsule and then a guy on a track bike with cowhorn bars and a fixed gear rode by us up the hill without stopping. I was half in awe, and half in hatred, because this guy surely would be riding the race next weekend, and if he can make it up on a fixie, he’s surely a badass and could beat me up the hill.

The awe/hatred had a carrot effect on me. If I could catch him, and keep up with him, or pass him, then I would have a pretty good idea how the race would go. So once Kevin and I started going again, I kicked the effort up a notch and tried to catch him. The second half of the mountain is slightly steeper than the first half, so it was somewhat foolish to work harder on the harder section, thereby squaring my efforts, but damn, why not chase a carrot?

After about a mile of hard work, I saw a group of riders ahead. He’s up there, and passing people. All I need to do is catch up, now that I see them, I can visually track, and mentally fixate on a goal. Forget about my own pain, just catch him. Well about a mile later of chasing, and I finally caught up the the first casualty. It wasn’t the guy, but another cyclist. I said “Hi” to him as I passed, but he gave me no love, so I spun my way on. The next guy I caught up to wasn’t the track bike guy either. This guy said “hi” back, but not really in a friendly way. I’m sure people don’t like people passing them and saying “hi” when they’re struggling, but I’d rather someone did that to me than say nothing.

two more guys, and still no tack bike guy! Did he LOSE me completely?? No other cyclsts were in sight. Oh well, he is faster, and I just wasted my time, blew my whole training plan, and used up some valuable energy to chase down a carrot that could not be caught. My energy evels were dwindling, as was my mental stamina. I kept drinking the water, shifted to the lowest gear, and just tried to spin and not cramp up. speed was down to 7mph. Hardly on pace for sub01 hour, but I had to maintain something steady rather than blow up and lose it all to leg cramps.

Before I knew it, I was in sight of the summit. I took my last swig of water, which was exactly empty. Perfect! no unnecessary weight for the “wall” at the top. No leg cramps to speak of, GOOD the electrolytes must be working. A glance at the time showed 1 hour exactly, so I knew I wasn’t going for a record breaking run, but would have a pretty decent time. I hit the wall and took it in my second lowest gear, just to get thorugh it faster. It requires a ton of all body strength to push up a 17% grade for 200 meters, but the smaller gear you choose, the slower you get to the top, and the longer the torture lasts. So my strategy, since it is the end, is to push and give it full blast, going for cardiac arrest, oxygen debt, wheezing out loud, and crank through at the highest gear I can push without my legs giving out.

Time to the top, 1:07. not bad There were a lot of other riders up there, all training for the same race next weekend. I was looking for track bike guy, to tell him he’s my idoll, but he was nowhere to be found. Afterwards Kevin had told me that he saw the track bike guy stopped on the side of the road. So maybe I could have caught him after all, who knows. The main thing is, I’m mentally and physically ready to race, so let’s bring it on, Diablo.

p.s. Cambiatta Data : 1 ride: 4 minutes in length, 1 ride: 1 minute in length, 1 ride: 1 minute in length. No heart rate data. I’m going to leave the data logging equipment off the bike for the race, to save weight, and my sanity.

Don’t just train, TrainRight.

Yesterday I was freaked out by the surprise thunderstorms in Fremont, so I decided to stay inside for my workout. I took Kevin’s advice and popped in the CTS training systems Time Trial workout DVD, set up the rollers and got a towel, grabbed the Cambiatta, and started the workout.
The first time I watched this video, I was eating dinner, which is probably not how it is intended to be used, but it seemed really boring, and Chris Carmichael’s comments were less than inspiring, as he was just holding a clipboard while the other cyclists in the video worked hard. And it just seemed like someone telling you to “ride hard now” and then “rest”. I didn’t think I needed a video to tell me that.
But on the bike, actually turning the pedals, the video takes on a real role. Pedal stroke for stroke, it was very difficult to keep up with the workout, and I was winded by the second warmup sprint.
And then the workout started. Three long “PowerIntervals” which were just at or above the aerobic threshold, each lasting 4 minutes. The first one had me struggling after only 2 minutes, wishing I hadn’t put in this video. But I stuck it out, listened to Chris’s comments, which although were not the most inspiring (“I know it hurts”), still were better than what my own brain was telling me. (“stop now”). With 5 minutes of rest in between intervals, it gave me time to drink water, ttry to wipe the sweat off my glasses, and recover.
The second PowerInterval came around, and this time I did what the video said, which is to pick on something and concentrate on that only. So I chose cadence, and tried to keep it as high and smooth as possible. This actually worked, allowing me to block out thoughts of pain and suffering, and before I knew it the interval was coming to and end. I hadn’t even noticed that the sweat was now dripping off my chin, and my glasses were sliding off of my face. During this rest phase, I tried to wipe off sweat with one hand, but was so tired and dizzy, My glasses slipped off, and while catching them, I ended up riding off the side of the rollers. Luckily, I was too tired to panic about it and managed to land both tires onto the ground, holding myself against the countertop nearby. A better result than this.
By the third interval, I was really in the zone. My legs were holding up well, and I was so focused that the 4 minutes flew by like nothing. This system really works! Kevin was right, and hopefully, I will be better off for trying it.
The three intervals were followed by alternating “SteadyState” intervals, which were less effort, but varied cadence while maintaining a constant heart rate. keeping it just below the aerobic threshold was much easier than going above it. It was a good end to the interval training, exercising the lactic acid transport systems… get it out of the legs.
So it seemed to be an effective tool, and I’d probably do this workout again, perhaps just with the sound, because while riding the rollers, I can never seem to ride straight and stay on them, without looking at the front wheel.
Cambiatta Data: 4 rides logged, each one minute long. One had heart rate data, another had some distance data, but only for a minute. Perhaps the transmitter batteries are weak and need to be changed, and the base unit is going to sleep because no signal is being received. I know my heart rate monitor transmitter strap needs a new battery, but the watch receives enough signal to tell me some data now and then. Anyways, I need to buy about 5 different watch batteries now for all the electronics on this bike, and I am determined to get some data from this little grey box.

Sunday Hillfest

More training for the Mt. Diablo Challenge, coming up Oct. 2. I see they have finally reposted the results from last year, so I am reminded that I was only two minutes slower than my previous time, and that was after cramping up. So what that means to me, is that as long as I can prevent leg cramps, and am about the same training level I was last year, I should be able to at least equal my time, and perhaps come in closer to one hour, which is what I want to hit.

To prevent cramping, I am researching what form of electrolytes I am going to take with me during the race. Wheter it is a packet of Emergen-C or an Endurolyte capsule, or just 50% gatorade, I have not yet decided. From my previous attempts at using energy drinks while riding less than an hour, I have seen no positive effects, and possibly more negative effect than compared to drinking plain water. Something about the sugar sucks the energy right out of me. But on a long ride, I am sure electrolyte replacement helps me out. So what to do on a one-hour, high effort ride? I’ve tried just water in the past, and a gel pack right before the race. That didn’t work for me. So this time, I’m going with electrolytes.

Today I rode from Woodside to San Gregorio, north on hwy 1 to Tunitas Creek, where the 9 miles hillclimb would be my strength test. I was all set with the Cambiatta data logger this time: Just gonna push the button once. I was hoping to meet Don and Paige for today’s ride, but without my phone on me, I had no way of knowing why and how we had missed each other at the start, so I rode on solo.

The first climb up Old La Honda felt good. I used my smallest gear and spun as high a cadence as possible, just trying to find a rhythm. Passed quite a few people, and didn’t get passed by anyone. Just as many cyclists in the bay area do, I judge my climbing ability by my elapsed time from bottom to top of Old La Honda. Today I came in at 24:40, and feeling very strong a the end (had to save something for the second Climb up Tunitas Creek) which is right where I usually am when in good climbing shape. At the top, a family had set up a table selling baked goods for Hurricane Katrina relief. Props to the family for settings that up, and the young kids who sold me the brownies and water. The top of Old La Honda road on a Sunday is perhaps the best logistical spot to sell things to bicyclists.

I took hwy 84 by way of Alice’s Restaurant down to the ocean. It was a windy, lonely 14 mile ride. Not a single cyclist came past me, and only a handful were going the opposite way. I never like doing this stretch alone, because it really feels like you’re nowhere, going to the end of the country (literally) and there’s no way to get back except up a steep hill. There was a sign of life about 5 miles from the coast, actually the sign said “Rodeo” and the smell of horse hit me like a brick wall. I tried to catch a sideways glimpse of someone roping a steer or riding a bull, but was too busy battling the wind and holding my breath.

Finally I pull up to the general store at San Gregorio and take off my shoes to give my feet a breather. There’s a large group of motorcyclists congregating outside, and my bicycle was the only one in the bike rack. Feeling totally outnumbered, I picked a ledge to sit on and mixed up a batch of Emergen-C to go with my brownie, and acted like I belonged there. Unfortunately, the brownie ended up having tons of white chocolate chips and probably a lot of butter (what was I thinking) so I chucked it and settled for a Clif Bar. The electrolytes in the EmergenC really perked me up, and I hit the road. Stage Road, that is.

Stage road is probably in the worst possible location, right after the rest stop, and it goes straight up. Cold, rested muscles and a steep incline do not make a happy marriage. I hardly picture stagecoaches going up this steep road, but such is the name. I rode this section very delicately, knowing full well the real climbing was coming up, and that I would need all my strength not to tackle a silly Stage Road, but rather to climb Tunitas Creek, and make it home. Once at the top of Stage road, I’ve reached the glorious Pacific Coast Highway, and plunge downhill towards a 20 second view of the ocean and some massive cliff walls surrounding a private beach. This is the “ocean” part of the “riding to the ocean” that sounds so exotic.

Finally hitting Tunitas Creek, the old logging road that turns men into mice, I cranked up the volume in my head and spun my pedals in a blur. Everyone knows (well almost everyone) that the first third of this road is easy. The second third is hell, and the last third is a tad easier. Sure enough, on that second third, I felt a lof of resistance of forward motion. my climbing rough and my breathing was labored, but I kept on pressing, looking for a soul to pass. And to my surprise the one person I catch up with ends up being Don! Apparently, he had left just before me, and did a slightly shorter ride, but the same loop to the ocean and back. It was a welcome happenstance, and we climbed the last third of Tunitas at a very competitive pace.

All in all, a good ride. Eager to check my Cambiatta data, tonight I downloaded the results: 5 rides logged, each 1 minute long, with no heart rate data. What the heck?!? At this point, I’d do better with pencil and paper. Perhaps a perusal of the instruction manual is in order. Oh but wait, they cleverly don’t include instructions in the package. I have go to the website. A recipe for confusion! Anyways, I’ll keep trying.

On the road to Diablo

In preparation for my upcoming race up Mt. Diablo, I have been given the opportunity to use a new training device, made by Cambiatta. It is a little electronic device that I carry in my pocket during a ride, which supposedly gathers data about speed, cadence, and heart rate during the ride. Then it syncs with my PC and I can store all kinds of information about my ride. So I set it up today, and went out for a quick spin through Fremont.
SInce I didn’t have much time, it was to be a short ride, so I hit it pretty hard. two quick one-minute efforts at above 90% effort to warm up, and then gentle spinning for a couple miles. The one bad thing about this Cambiatta device, is there is no display – it just absorbs data, but I have no idea if it is on or off. There’s one big button to push, but the feedback is either a beep, or a light flashes, or doesn’t flash, or doesn’t beep. So I dunno what’s happening.
My ride lasted for about 50 minutes, and I kept my heart rate right at the aerobic threshold, sometimes going over just to strain my system. I focused on my breathing and saddle position, to try to find the right place to sit and get power without tiring out my legs and arms. I have about 4 positions on the saddle to mix up the leg muscle groups I use. That keeps me fresh and able to sustain close to my threshold for the whole sessionn.
To my dismay, when I got home, the Cambiatta had logged several rides, none of which were more than a minute long, and with no heart rate data. Apparently I had pushed that button too many times. I was so looking forward to re-living the ride through a chart or graph of some sort. But alas, such is the life of an early adopter. I’ll try again on Sunday.
The first impression of the Cambiatta: Needs a better user feedback system.

The real Katrina

Team Time Trial 2003 support crew
Paul, Katrina, Christina, Val, Vu

For a few years now I have known a friend named Katrina, and she is one of the nicest, most caring people I know. She has been a supporter of the Wheely Cool Velo Club since it’s inception, and donates to our Diabetes fundraising regularly, among other good deeds. To see her name blamed for so much destruction and strife this past week, well it’s just not fair. The press has given the name Katrina more than 15 minutes of fame, and not in a good way. But all this can be turned around if we help the relief and recovery efforts where we can. So I’m going to get the ball rolling by making a donation to the American Red Cross from the Wheely Cool Velo Club. Not only to help the victims of this natural disaster, but also to clear the name of a good person.

American Red Cross
Hurricane Katrina Relief