Shaving my legs, so you don't have to!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fondo Photos


Holy Shit!

Bitchin' camero if "camero" meant "cove."


Waiting in line for the start... hoping l'autobus won't move much faster.

100+ miles, 6500' elevation gain, 40-50mph wind gusts, pretending I'm Peter Van Petegem on one mile of gravel bike path, riding next to Tyler Wren of Colavita/Sutter Home for 100 meters, and a pint of Fat Tire Ale all inured me enough to meet the one and only Bobke himself: Mr. Bob Roll.

Friday, August 21, 2009


After spending the past 38 hours perusing the Internet for training strategies, nutritional advice, and mental focusing mantras the first thing I've realized is that FRS is very expensive. I've also managed to put myself into "sleep debt," but the innerwebs once told me sleep deprivation is " big deal." Huzzah! More FRS please! (If I take 3 Five Hour Energies, will that = 15 more hrs, or will I do things three times faster for 5?).

The first thing I've learned is that I need to locate my training "zones" by using The Karvonen Formula, which I first assumed was Bjarne Riis' recovery shake recipe circa 1996, until I stumbled across the simple directions at Since I hate homework, I've cheated and noticed that target HR charts were posted on the wall at the gym I "toured" with my free trial coupon (between the three main gyms' multiple locations and a copy machine, I figure I'll have the two weeks of my strength-phase covered). Apart from worries about "ghost pulses hidden in my thumb" and the fact that the 220-age HR formula was invented by a 12th century alchemist, I doubt Fausto Coppi even bothered to check his, so I'm counting beats and making a mix tape. Also, I saw "Lars," a "personal trainer" very personally training the woman next to me spread over a giant rubber ball, point at a chart. First problem: Some charts say 3 zones, some up to 6! Plus, some only count age in 10 yr blocks (round up?) and others calculate by graphs! Shit.

Second problem: says I have to perform a "threshold test" by riding an hour long time trial, or uphill over and over again, or something equally ridiculous like entering a criterium. Fortunately, I've managed to keep one entire year of Bicyling Magazine on hand (doesn't matter which year, any 12 issues will suffice, as only the pictures of the bikes change per issue), and have found solace with these words: "breathing based training zones."


My Zones therefore:
1). Asleep
2). At work
3). Reading Cyclesport while comfortably holding a conversation, at work
4). Reading Ride while comfortably holding a conversation at my LBS
5). Riding my bike to Peets
6). Driving to Peets and trying to find a parking space

Next-up, the routine!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Il Grande Bicicletta

Post Tour depression is ugly and debilitating and only two courses of therapy are proven to ease the suffering: one requires copious amounts of disposable income and a Velonews New Product Guide (the new Time RxR Ulteam is aero, Euro, and stiff, just like the DJ last night!), and number two is, of course, going on a bike ride and suffering like the dog that I am until I can no longer contemplate a certain existential malaise. Aside from sharing some Nutella with Scarlett Johansson during a mutually therapeutic "post-ride" massage, remedy#1 is currently the least likely, and that means only one thing...


And since this Tour was so jammed packed with "who shot JR?" drama, and Schlecks (twins or triplets?), this time I have to "train" for an actual goal:

Levis GranFondo!

Actually being dropped by numerous PRO riders and their friends is the only thing that can make me worthy of staying up all night to read live webcasts of races on Cyclingnews. "Neutral roll-out. Still neutral roll-out for the next 7 km, looks like Jens Voigt has his leg-grippers rolled up so we expect him to be on the attack, or he's working on his tan, and look at that, Pozzato is actually getting a tattoo from his team car, I think its a Spongebob-Bibpants!"

Six weeks till D(rop)-day! I have to get a base, build cycling specific strength, follow endurance specific nutrition plans, work on my CORE strength (whatever that is, but I think it helps with constipation), develop all sorts of "intervals," which I'm shocked to find out are not periods of "temporary cessation" at all, and practice "active-recovery," a little oxymoronic I realize, but wait until you hear about "hill-repeats!"

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The "conversation"

We've all heard it, or have been sucked into it. . .the random conversation with a fellow traveller while out on a ride, and it always goes something like this:

(mid-afternoon: it's raining and 45 degrees, with an Arctic wind)

rider A:"Beautiful day for a ride."
rider B:"Yeah, sure is. I got off to a late start though. I've only been out for 41/2 hours."
A:"I know what you mean. I had to hand-auger twenty fencepost holes this morning after babysitting the octuplets. I'll be lucky to get over to the coast and back. . .again."
B:"No shit. At least all you have to do is babysit. My kids are always getting into trouble when I'm carrying the re-bar for the velodrome I'm building around my house. I could only manage 200 bags of quickcrete today!"

(turning into a vicious headwind)

A(while up shifting):"Thank goodness I'm only building my base now. I gotta stay in my my zone numero two-oh. I haven't ridden in six weeks."
B(shaking head, getting out of the saddle):"What are zones?"
A:"Good one."
B:"Seriously, nothing like a nice easy 200k to break the legs in. Since my back surgery I've had to take it easy."
B:"GLASS! wait, no, POTHOLE!"
B:"Back at cha'"
A:"Thank goodness I brought Duct tape today. After that school bus clipped me, I didn't know what to do with two broken collar bones. What are you training for?"
B:"Oh I don't race (big ringing it)"
A:"Me neither (sprinting), it's all about the. . .ri. . . .de. . ."
B:"Ex. . .ach, ach, ach. . .t. . ly. . ."
A:"Damn lights."
B:"I curse this intersection."
A:"I was just getting into a rhythm."
B:"I can't afford a ticket though."
A:"We gotta wait."
B:"What's your name?"
A:"Ferdi Juliper. Yours?"
B:"Felice Ghirotto."

(third rider approaches)

C:"Nice day for a ride, eh?"
A/B:"Sorry/What's that?"
C:"Green light." (third rider sprints off and rapidly fades into distance.) "Ciao."
A:"Probably in a hurry for his fattacinno."
B:"Fenders; like its wet today."
B:"Well I gotta run if I'm going to get my hill-repeats in."
A:"Yeah, me too or I'll only get a couple of hours of motor pacing in tonight."
A:"2 my momma!"

(if it's sunny and warm: mid-afternoon)

A:"This is why we do it."
B:"What it is all about."
A:"Where ya headed?"
B:"Oh, I'm headed home"
A:"Me too. It was a little chilly when the sun came up but it's warmed up nicely."
B:"Yeah just a tad crisp. Where's Home?"
A:"Paso Robles. You?"
B:"Santa Rosa. Enjoy the tail-wind."
A:"Tailwind is earned at 45."
B:"That's what my youngest says. Have a great ride."

(both riders make a u-turn in opposite directions)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paging Dr. Heiden

Among his numerous accomplishments, Eric Heiden's record of sub 15' up Old La Honda Rd. must rank as his greatest. Tour de France rider, US Pro Road Champion, five-time gold medal winner, promoter of Slurpee's and burritos in a bag, and, oh yes, Stanford Medical School graduate and acclaimed doctor of orthopedic surgery, Heiden's relentless ascent of this local mur is legend.

What is rarely mentioned when bay area locals contemplate the enormity of this athletic accomplishment is that Heiden routinely posted sub 15' climbs on his commute to and from Stanford because he lived at the top of the road in a small hut made of Belgian cobblestones he built himself, carrying the stones on his back along with 48lbs of medical reference books, and his supply of raw potatoes that Jim Ochowicz allowed as a diet. His times would grow slightly if a coed was riding on his handlebars for one of his infamous all night tutoring sessions. I can almost hear him humming along to Mr. Mister on his Walkman!

Like most road cyclists of the Golden Era, and "student-racers" in particular, Heiden employed some common hill-climbing equipment adjustments on his campus Huffy: removing the inner chain ring and front derailleur being the most practical as the 55 proved to be adequate with a straight block for his massive 52" thighs, carrying only one lead-filled bidon, and of course, Specialized Turbo-S clincher tires with latex tubes mounted to 36 hole 3X (tied and soldered) Mavic MA2s. Heiden's achievement is focused when its remembered that Old La Honda Rd. wasn't paved until 2002, and he had to carry a shotgun for protection from the numerous Grizzly Bears and Portola Valley Pumas that inhabited the area. On campus he was known as Eric Stouffer and Grizzly Heiden for the beard and skins he preferred to wool and lycra.

I once witnessed Heiden lap a collegiate criterium field on his way to the campus library while captaining a tandem beach cruiser... the Stanford Tree laying back, trunk on handlebar, in the stokers seat!

Sure, George Hincapie can climb OLH close to Heiden's mark while talking on his cellphone, but George's bike wasn't cast from wrought iron like Eric's, and it should be pointed out that Eric Heiden had to ride into a head wind his entire career and that he preferred a measure of brake block rub to settle his frame upon corner exit under power (that's a free tip for uphill cornering Mr. Menchov). All cyclists can learn from the achievements of our fellow warriors, and I for one have taken Eric Heiden's to heart:

Go to a hospital!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The first column

Stoplight Intervals:

At an intersection the color Red is your friend, Yellow is a cheap ticket to Vegas, and sweet, sweet Green will put the emo on your ipod. Green will devour you. If riding towards an intersection that is Green, the successful rider will soft-pedal in the big ring, in the drops (hoods are ok if the rider can ape Jens or Fabian) until Yellow will allow the rider to sit up with a head-shake of frustration. Remember, "safety first" is your excuse. The successful interval ends with various back and leg stretches while late-braking to a stop. The No-Hand-Arm-Shake-Sit-Up is also appropriate. Never, ever track stand. One back pedal is ok if the bike is still in motion before coming to a complete stop and unclipping one leg only (important!, unless performing the advanced Hampsten Giro TT start-ramp finish).

The meat and potatoes of this workout, as CTS would say, is the Start Line Pose. The unclipped leg is placed straight out, unbent at a forty-five degree or greater angle with the clipped foot at the one o'clock power position (taking up more of the width of the road shoulder, the better). Chain is in big ring and only one thigh or butt cheek rests on the top tube. Forearms are folded or resting on handlebar tops (a classic pose, perfected by Davis Phinney, and one to be mastered before attempting more advanced moves).

Always breathe with your nose at the stoplight and at anytime other riders are in the vicinity.

Never drink from your bottle at the intersection but it is appropriate to unwrap one pre-cut ham sandwich quarter from its wax paper, or to look at a small piece of paper that fits into your palm as if looking at directions. Drinking is ok only when in motion and preferably when riders are approaching from behind at a rate of speed where Wheel-Sucking cannot be attempted as they pass and if the rider is already sitting up. Other activities to practice while being passed or dropped is the Cramp-thigh-Shake (again a Cancellara from Roubaix 2008), sucking down a gel (but never the one stuffed under your shorts thigh gripper), adjusting cable-tension, listening for mechanical drive train gremlins, and very many one legged thigh and back stretches of the Cirque variety.

Starting an interval from the intersection is as important as arriving at one. Green's envy can be reduced by a successful launch. The first move to master is the Neutral Roll-Out; big ring, still chewing, and/or checking the cell-phone are all good roll-out moves until any other riders have overtaken (always start from the front!) and are well ahead. Remember to pull your ear bud out only if spoken to twice, you're concentrating!

Remember always pass a wheel-sucked rider when approaching the Red, prepare for a cramp if the Green is stubborn, and hide your smile when winning Yellow. Use a mirror while on the trainer to practice facial expressions and leg-flex repeats when it's raining. Saturday afternoons are the best time for stoplight intervals. Drive to the area with the most stoplights (Hwy 17 bridge in Los Gatos is the parking place for West Side Santa Clara Valley, and Blossom Hill-Camden-Almaden expressway loop). Behind Bicycle Outfitter for Foothill Expressway, or Roberts Market in Woodside (Canada Rd is good for practicing being dropped + two stop signs!).

Don't smile and have fun!