Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TT Tuesday

Well, since last Tuesday's more intense ride to improve speed went pretty well, I thought I'd try it again. Around 3:00 it didn't look like there was much chance since there were storms around and it was pretty gloomy looking, but by 5:00 it was all gone and bright sunshine had broken out with only a few stray clouds wandering around.

The TT part was, just like last week, twenty minutes of full effort. I started it at the five mile mark and when I slacked off twenty minutes later I had covered seven miles. Using my abacus, fingers and toes, I calculate that to be an average of 21 mph for that distance. Not too bad for an old guy, I guess.

Here is the speed trace.

The heartrate

And the elevation.

The whole ride worked out to 32.8 miles with an average of 18 mph. I'm wondering, since I ride the whole thing alone with no one to draft and share the work, could that be fairly fast? Wish I knew, but it was fun, anyway.

Watching TDF on Versus now, I must confess, I succumbed to the spoilers on the WWW intertubes today, so I already know the outcome. I need to watch it anyway. Hope Jens gets well soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Hills Are Alive...

Oops, wrong musical. Needs to be "The corn is as high as an elephant's eye"
So. we're not in Oklahoma, but, that is tall corn, no matter where you are. I don't think I have ever seen corn this tall, and I've driven through the corn fields of Indiana so I've seen corn. I had to stop and take this picture. I have been to the NC Zoo in Asheboro, and suggest that anyone visiting this area take the time to go there, and know just how high an elephants eye is. No elephants can see over this field.

The latest iteration of Saturday's route takes me within couple of hundred yards of Homeland Creamery. One thing they have is ICE CREAM! Depending on the route variation, it comes either at 32 or 38 miles into the ride. Today it was 32, or about 2000 burned calories. Unfortunately I never seem to take enough money with me to stop and replenish. I need to remember to. An ice cream stop on a hot summer day - what could be better. Maybe next weekend.

Not sure what is going on with the weather. Today was about 82 degrees. Believe it or not, that feels cold now. Not a normal NC summer, by any means. An amazing, beautiful day, though. Stats for today; 48.75 miles, 16.9 mph, 3099 calories. Not too bad, I guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Speed Hurts

But only for a little while.

With variable success I've been trying to get back to the same average speeds I reached before last year's month long sabbatical. Part of it was the race last month and knowing I used to be faster, some of it is probably the inspiration from watching the TDF. Riding my bike the way I do gives me a clue as to what it takes to ride at that level. But just a clue. Those guys are tough.

So I've been starting to push for speed. Now, increasing average speed over a thirty mile ride isn't going to come on the downhills. It comes on the flats and the climbs. Mostly the climbs, one or two mph up a hill makes a huge difference, and that can hurt.

Tonight I set out with a goal, for once. GO FAST. After warming up for about twenty minutes I set out on my own mini time trial. Max effort for the next fifteen miles, especially up the hills and on the flats. I kept my heart rate right around the point that the alarm on the Garmin goes off. Going up the hills was the hardest. Legs saying shift down a couple of gears and recover, brain saying "no". Brain won, mostly. I ended that part of the ride - which includes the steepest climbs of my route - with an average speed of 18.6 mph. I forgot to look at my average for the first 20 minutes of warm up, so I don't know how fast I really went, but I doubt it was over 16, it usually isn't for that part of the ride.

The whole ride was 33 miles with an average of 17.8. Although it hurt for a while, it felt good after. I just have to keep doing it. I don't know why, but going fast has always been what I want most.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Picking Up Speed

Ever since last year's month long pause in riding while trying to deal with breathing problems, getting back to pre break speed levels has been a problem. Ok, I know this extra ten pounds I'm carrying (mostly around the waist - hey, I'm 55, it happens) doesn't help, nor does the fact that I am refusing to take any asthma meds because of the side effects. But still, I try. Most rides have been about a mile per hour off last year's best, but there have been a few that make it seem that speed is within reach.

Saturday I got in a nice 50 mile ride and averaged 17 mph. Not too bad for that distance. Sunday the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms all day, and they were in the area according to the radar on the Internet. So, no ride, just a nice "veg out" day in front of the tube.

Tonight, though....

If you had told me 20 years ago when I moved here from Massachusetts that I would be riding a bike when it was 92 degrees and thinking it was the perfect temperature, I'd have laughed at you. When it was 92 in New England finding an air conditioned place to hang out was the top priority, not going for a 33 .6 mile bike ride. But today was like that. Perfect. So, I pushed a bit. At one point, about 19 miles in, I had an 18.7 mph average. That happened to coincide with the lowest elevation an the loop, and the 200 feet of climbing over the next six miles dropped that to 18.2, but I maintained that for the rest of the ride. So, I equaled my best ever. Speed is still possible, I guess.

Must be getting some motivation from watching TDF. Lets see what Thursday's ride brings.

Just to document this, LAST Thursday's ride included, for the first time, a car crossing into my lane, on purpose, and forcing me off the road at one of the fastest points in my ride. I turned around and gave chase, but there was no hope of catching it. I can't believe how stupid some people are. They must forget - it's a small town, after all.