various loops near The Dalles, OR

Sunday I met up with some biker friends in Hood River. We were going to do a century, but it was just a little too cold and rainy (as in I was getting some slush on the windshield as we were driving into Hood River; I wouldn't have been surprised if we wound up climbing up into the snow...).

Dave took us around some various loops that are used by the Cherry Blossom race. Lots of great climbs, gorgeous scenery. Wasn't too rainy.

The group I was with were all more advanced than me. Fortunately they didn't tear my legs off or leave me on the side of the road 200m after we started. But I certainly didn't have much left in the tank by the time we got back.


Training Plan Mk II

I'm currently reading two eArticles from RoadBikeRider.com: Beyond the Century by John Hughes and Swift Endurance by Fred Matheny.

First off, let me state that either of these philosophies will be of benefit. I will discuss some of the differences and will mention certain aspects that will work better for me but I don't intend to say which one or the other is better.

The training plan suggested by Matheny seems to make sense to me. Typically it seems logical to me that training rides should build up to be close to the actual competition distance (ideally, you would peak with a ride or a few rides that would actually exceed the race distance). However, it gets real difficult to find the time for these rides when you start getting over a century and if you're doing the traditional '10% weekly increase' training plan, you have a significant time period over which you're supposed to be doing these really long rides.

The one problem I have with both of these, indeed with most training plans, is the idea of a recovery ride. Why spend an hour on the bike (which winds up being at least an hour and a half by the time you get the preparation and post-ride shower taken care of) if your only goal is to NOT exert yourself?

Another problem I have is that the LaC Ultra occurs kind of early in the season (May 28th - 29th this year) so I really need to train according to a training plan; I can not rely on just riding around and coincidentally winding up with good fitness at the end of the summer like I did last year. I simply don't have the time to do a 3-4 month base build and 1-2 months of build phase. I'm considering two peaks this year, the LaC Ultra and RAO.

Currently, I have a training plan based on the traditional 10% weekly increase (specifially from www.ultracycling.com). I will do a volume peak shortly before the race, and then the taper. My intensity will come from short weekly rides, one consisting of flat speed, the other being hill work. Both of these rides are less than 50 miles. There will be two weekly volume rides: one ride that is about 30% of the week's long ride but is at a greater than race pace, and the long ride which is at race pace and will increase by 10% every week.

The problem with this is that in April, my long rides get into the double-century range. That's a lot of bike time, even for an unemployed slacker such as myself. One alternate that I know someone has used in the past is to just do a century both days of the weekend. This gives good overall mileage and also stresses the body for doing a century without sufficient recovery. That will be something to consider for RAO, but I think I'll be better-served for LaC by having one longer ride instead. The longer ride will also ive me a chance to get my nutrition plan ironed out. If I'm riding along I intend to do these rides non-stop as much as possible. that will also allow me to calculate my typical dilly-dallying time requirements.



Superglue saved my Tufos

After the Dalles Mtn 60 the other weekend, I was cleaning my bike and inspecting the tires. I noticed a blister on my front tire, looks like something slashed the sidewall pretty good. I only had about 1500 miles on the tires. The tread otherwise looked really good and I didn't want to toss an otherwise perfectly good tubular.


Pretty good sidewall cut

I first moved the tire so the blister was at the bottom and if any glue dripped it wouldn't get on the rim. With the tire still pumped up to operating pressure I then got out the superglue and globbed it on the blister. I then opened the valve and let the air out until the blister pulled back in. I left enough air pressure in so that everything was still held in place.


A little hard to tell but it's definitely not as herniated

I pumped the tire up to operating pressure the next morning and checked the wound. There was a slight bulge but it looks like everything is being held in OK. That was about 300 miles ago and it's still working.


Showers Pass Touring jacket review

I decided to get this jacket instead of the top-of-the-line Elite II. The main issue for me is that the Tour has two side pockets that are easily accessible while riding. For some reason the Elite II only has a pocket in the lower back but I hate those pockets, I'm not flexible enough to get into them while riding.

Additionally, the jacket comes in black. You may think that black is a bad color for a bike jacket, but it has reflective striping. The reason I wanted black is because HiVis Yellow is only slightly easier to keep clean than White; oh, did I say easy? I meant that it's a pain in the posterior to keep clean, sorry 'bout that misunderstanding.

The venting system works really well. You definitely notice if you forgot to zip up when you're blasting down a hill. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to grab the zipper pulls, but bear in mind that it could just as easily be due to wearing long-fingered gloves.

I wore it throughout the winter and it was very effective in keeping my warm. On the coldest rides I would wear a jersey, a long-sleeve polypropylene shirt, a wool sweater, and the Showers Pass jacket. This combination is sufficient for keeping my core warm. I skip the wool sweater when it gets much above the mid-40's and replace it with a light Polarmax sweater.

This may sound gross, but I do notice some sweat buildup on the inside. I'm able to keep warm though so I'm not worried about it. I probably need to work on remembering to open the vents and unzip the front when I start climbing hills. I try to wear the bear minimum to keep me warm at effort so when I stop I cool down real quick. Not a big issue for day training rides, if I was doing an overnight brevet that would be a potential hypothermia risk.

So far the durability is excellent. I've worn it on just about every road ride since the middle of December (about 16 so far) and have not experienced any failures. I do notice that the cuff looks like it's pilling at the folds, but the full-finger gloves I wear have a long cuff so perhaps that is abrading the jacket's cuff.

I also purchased the rain hood but have only used it once. I was hoping that it would be large enough to fit over the helmet, but it isn't. Not really a negative point, just something to bear in mind.



Night Rider


No, not that Knight Rider...

Just a few notes on riding at night.

One thing I find beneficial is the use of multiple blinkers. Specifically, I have two PlanetBike Super Flashes: one on the seat post, the other low on the left seat stay. The multiple blinkers really help you to stand out. More than once I've been riding on a dark road, I hear a car coming up behind me but they're around a bend or on the other side of a rise. As their headlight beams paint me, I actually hear the car slow down a bit and I know they've seen me.

I usually have clip-on aero bars installed so I don't really have any room for lights on the handlebars. A few years ago someone on craigslist was posting home-made light mounts that took the place of the quick-release nut on your front wheel. This mounts the light down low. Advantage: really lights up the road, doesn't blind on-coming riders and drivers (if properly aimed). Disadvantage: might not catch drivers attention. Currently, when I have a light on that mount it's my Planet Bike 1W Blaze. I usually leave it in blink mode to provide better safety, rather than allowing me to navigate.

Helmet mount: excellent idea. I really like my Niterider Minewt 250 mounted on the helmet. Coming up to an intersection, I briefly point it at any other cars in order to announce my existence. Advantage: turn your head to point and aim. Disadvantage: weight or dealing with power cable. I actually tried to put the Niterider on the axle mount mentioned above, but the design of the clamp doesn't allow it to tighten to the point where it won't fall off. If it was on the handlebars, it wouldn't matter because I could just tip it back up. But due to the open end of the axle mount, it could fall off.

Regardless of where your light is mounted, it needs to be aimed properly. Yes, aiming your lights isn't just for your car headlights. For rear-facing lights you want to point it so that it's visible to a driver coming up behind you, slightly towards the left. You also want to have your rear lights affixed to a static mount point, the only exception being a blinky on the back of your helmet. Those fabric loops on a saddle bag or backpack should be avoided, they are usually too large and the light is not securely affixed in position so it wiggles around and may point off to the side or down to the ground.

You also need to consider passive visibility: reflective materials and stickers. The best reflective tape I've found is Reflexit V92 in silver (available from http://www.identi-tape.com/hi-intensity.htm). Put small snippets of the tape on the chainstays, seatstays, head tube, and anywhere else you think will provide good side visibility. Don't forget your helmet. If your wheels have room for it, you will also get a great deal of benefit by placing reflective tape on your rims.

High-visibility traffic vest: even though I have one, it's just a little too fredly for my tastes and I rarely wear it. But it does provide excellent visibility. The specific one I have is just a cheapo traffic safety vest from Home Depot. It will fit over any amount of cycling jacket and sweater, and the reflective stripes are nice and wide. The only problem with it is that it only has one velcro patch for closing, but I guess I could use a safety pin to keep it a little more secure (not that I've ever had a problem with it popping open). I also am skeptical of the benefit due to the angle of my torso while riding. If I rode a hybrid or had an upright position, I think the vest would provide better visibility. But I'm usually hunched over on a road bike and may even have a day or lumbar pack on.

Oh, and listening to your iPod or MP3 player while riding? Day or night, that is stupid.