Camp PedalWORKS … 🤔

IMG_7773

When I was a young boy, before mom and dad purchased their own place, we spent numerous summer weekends at my uncles cottage on Balsam Lake. I swam, fished, fetched water at the community water pump, and walked the forested lakeside roads careful to avoid any poison ivy. I had fun but was always alone. I have no siblings, and there were no other children my age staying at the nearby cottages. I often sat on the dock peering at the children’s camp across the lake, watching them play, swim, learn to canoe and sail, and sing songs every night in front of a large bonfire. I always wanted to go to camp, but never did.

I still spend a lot of time alone. As an only child you quickly learn to amuse yourself. I never get bored, or have enough time in the day to do all I want. I spend a lot of time at the cottage alone. I prefer it. There is always something to do. Swim. Kayak. Fish. Read. And cycle of course. I love the quiet, scenic, rural roads.

I think of my time at the cottage as a training camp. When I am here, I am usually training for an upcoming cycling event. And, because I have no distractions, I can focus on training. I cycle a lot. Eat better. Simple, wholesome meals. Eat less, usually losing 10 pounds when I am here. And, I sleep better. All of the activity, and the fresh air tires me out, making me rise and fall with the sun.

I have been doing this for a decade now, so often in fact, that I have begun to call the place Camp PedalWORKS. I am going to have a sign made, mount it on an old painted bicycle, and place it at the entrance by the road. That way people can find me more easily. Next season I’m going to organize weekly rides for other road cyclists in the area interested in training for one of the local century rides.

We will begin and end every ride at Camp PedalWORKS followed with a cold beer and swim 😂

Do you want to sign up?

The perfect motivator … 🤔

IMG_7087

If you are like me, you sometimes need motivation. Motivation to get outside on your bike. Motivation to work hard, harder than you usually do. Motivation to push a little harder, beyond where it is comfortable, where it hurts. It hurts your legs, when they feel they can’t continue. It hurts your lungs, when they are gasping for breath. And, it hurts your heart, when it is working as hard as it can to pump oxygen enriched blood to your needy muscles. This is the kind of motivation I’m talking about.

Group rides can get you to this level of exertion. Sometimes. It depends on how well matched you are with the other members of the group in terms of fitness, and motivation. For me, this seldom works. There are always stronger, and weaker cyclists in the group. If it is a no-drop group, you will always slow down for the slower riders. If it is a drop group, when you are left behind if you can’t keep up, you are left on your own, or with slower cyclists. The value of group rides for me is the social aspect. It is fun to ride with other like-minded cyclists. It’s not the place to test your metal.

Younger cyclists, particularly women, that pass me on the road are also a motivation. I don’t intend to sound sexist, but I hate being dropped. I work to catch up and stay on their wheel, if I can. But again, they made be too strong, or too weak, to give me the motivation I’m talking about.

Today, I discovered the perfect motivator.

Today was supposed to be a relaxed, Zone 1 ride. I had already put in over 200 training kms this week, and simply wanted to spin lightly to work out some leg muscle soreness. The first 25 kms were just that. I battled a 20 km headwind going out but I simply geared down, maintaining a high cadence. I decided mid-ride to stop for a coffee and sit in the sun. As I was finishing up, I noticed the sky to my right, the direction I was heading, was blue with numerous billowy white clouds. Perfect I thought. However, the sky to my left grew increasingly dark grey, even black. A severe thunderstorm was heading my way, and quickly. That’s what can happen in these parts.

I gulped down the remainder of my coffee, hopped on my bike, thinking I could out run this imminent storm. I was 25 km from the cottage, on quiet, smooth roads. Once I got onto the road, I realized the storm was gaining on me. I felt the wind strengthen, and a few drops of rain. I got onto the drops and large chainring, put my head down, and hammered as quickly as I could hitting speeds of 45-50 kph for 10 km before turning south. As I rounded the corner, the wind picked up, and it began to rain heavily. I dug in, lowered myself on the bars, and pushed harder. But the harder I worked, the worse the condition became. I was battling a 50 kph sidewind, and then hail. Large pieces of ice were pelting my face and bare arms.

I could barely see, but continued. There was no point stopping. I was already soaked, and cold. And, I was frightened of possible lightening strikes. They are normal for these storms. The sooner I got back to the cottage, the sooner I could dry off, and warm up. The sooner I would be safe.

My heart rate was high. My legs burning. And, my lungs aching. I was at my limit. Beyond my lactate threshold. This was a 25 km sprint. A 25 km time trial. No stops. No stop signs. No stop lights. No traffic. Just me, my bike, and the road, in the eye of a thunderstorm.

Fear is what motivated me. Fear of the storm. Fear of possible lightening strikes. This storm taught me that I could work harder, and longer, than I thought possible.

I got home in record time. I cycled faster than I ever have for 25 km. It was a sprint on relatively level ground. No drafting. No descents. Just me motivated like never before.

This storm has changed my training goals … 😂

That’s progress … 🤔

I have been making a lot of noise about cycling numbers these days, and admit I am a slave to them, despite my best intentions.

Nothing measured, nothing managed. Right?

If you have been following this blog, you know I installed a cadence sensor on my road bike. I had been training indoors on a Keiser spinning bike during the winter months, and became accustomed to both the power and cadence displays. There is a direct correlation. It takes more power to turn a larger gear, but you tire more quickly. On the other hand, if you spin a lower gear at a higher cadence, you generate similar power, but with less effort, and can last longer. Why? Because you are using your cardiovascular system, not your leg muscles, to do the work. If you watch the pros, they spin fast, AND in a high gear. That’s why they are pros.

My goal this season is to ride at a higher cadence. This will help with the endurance events I have planned. The ideal, apparently, is to spin at a rate of 90-100 RPM. That is my goal. Easy enough inside on a trainer. Something else again on a road bike over varied terrain, and weather conditions.

Well, today is a landmark day.

I rode ~ 35 km, averaging over 25 KPM with an average cadence of 91 RPM. Before you boohoo this, let me say it was not the easiest of routes. It was partly into a strong wind, and there was 6 km of climbing, some hills with a 6% grade. And, I did repeats on one of them. So, it wasn’t a flat ride. It isn’t the hardest, but it’s not the easiest either. I have never seen these numbers before. Anywhere. And keep in mind. There are averages. I saw 45 KPH and 106 RPM displayed more than once. I must be improving. I can average a 90-100 cadence more easily, even while climbing, and it seems, in a larger gear.

If I can do this on the harder of the 2 weekday rides I do, maybe I can average 30 kph on the easier route where the hills only average a 2-3% grade.

That’s progress … 🤔

I don’t do recreational … 🤔

IMG_7010

I don’t do recreational.

I no longer do leisurely, recreational rides with friends, and family. Not ever. I used to. However, these days, every ride is a training ride. I like cycling fast. And, I like to climb. Not everyone does. I ride to get stronger, and faster. I’m not riding to relax.

Today, while taping updated heart rate training zones to the stem of my road bike, I realized I no longer do recreational rides. How could I with those zones staring me in the face every pedal stroke. The VDO M6 cycling computer tracks the time spent in each of 4 user-defined training zones. Coaches use a different number of zones ranging from 4-7. I tailor the M6’s zones based on the 6 zones reported by the WattBike power calculator.

Now that I have switched to a more polarized regimen, I focus on zones 1, 3, and 4. Zone 2 is the “garbage” zone where I do not want to spend much time. These workouts are not hard enough to have any training effect, and yet stress the body enough to require additional recovery time. Whereas Zone 1 workouts are easier, also have little training effect, but stress the system less, and aid recovery, particularly for the older athlete. For the next 2 months, I plan to spend 80-85% of my time in Zone 1, and 15-20% in Zones 3 & 4,  where the greatest training effect takes place.

Polarized.

One end of the scale to the other, with no time spent in between,

This is how endurance athletes train.

What does this training look like? Well,  I’ll complete 1-2 hard rides per week at my lactate threshold level, or higher. Or, in practical terms, hill repeats. I find a 3+ km hill with a 5% (or steeper) gradient, and race up it 4-6 times. 7-8 minutes up. 2-3 minutes down. Times 4.

Hill repeats are not fun. If done correctly, they hurt. But there is no better way to improve power, and stamina on the bike. This is the reason I need training zones taped to my stem. I need to see that I’m pedalling easily enough to stay in Zone 1 for extended periods. And, I need to see that I am working hard enough on the hills to get into, and stay, in Zones 3, and 4.

Like any lactate threshold workout the key to Climbing Repeats is accumulating time at intensity. If you have 3×8 minute Climbing Repeats you’re accumulating 24 minutes at CR intensity. You could also achieve those 24 minutes by doing 4x6minute intervals or 2x12minute intervals. Generally, less experienced and less fit athletes should start with more, shorter intervals (4x6minutes) so that each interval can be completed at higher quality. As you get stronger – and as the training plans progress – the individual intervals typically get longer even if the total time at intensity stays the same. Recovery between intervals is typically half the time of the interval, or 3 minutes between 6-minute efforts, and 6 minutes between 12-minute efforts.

“Why can’t you make your Zone 1 rides recreational rides with friends and family?”, you ask.

Well, I suppose I could. The problem is I use them to build a solid base, gradually increasing ride times up to 3-4 hours, working on maintaining a high cadence, keeping properly fuelled, and hydrated. This is not recreational for most.

So, I don’t do recreational.

I ride solo mostly, particularly for those Zone 1 workouts. Other cyclists I know, don’t like the easier pace. They think there is no training effect, but are they doing regular hill repeats as well … 🤔 No. They don’t like the hills either.

So, what do you think?

Are they improving their conditioning? Are they making the most effective use of their rides?

Is this how you train … 🤔

TC-1 Hard Shell Case … 🤔

I have been travelling with the TC-1 Hard Shell Case for several years now, and have written about it several times in the past. In fact, it is one of the mostly read posts on this blog, with over 800 view in 3 years. Go figure.

What its it about this case?

Other cyclists must like to travel with their bikes 😀

The case was used when I got it. It originally belonged to one of my son’s clients. He disposed of it because the side clamps that secure the box together had been damaged, and removed. There is a small combination lock at the top, and a wide velco strap that keep the box closed but I have been increasingly more nervous travelling with it. I’m frightened it will open up in transit, and I will loose everything.

I have considered purchasing a new box but this one is a good size and weight, and apart from the missing side clasps, it is in excellent shape. So, I decided to fashion additional, high-tech closures.

So, off I went to Home Depot, returning with two additional tie-down straps, and double-sided, stick-on telco strips to secure the straps to the box. Now it can’t break apart in transit.

I’m ready to go 😂

Cadence Kit … 😂

IMG_6975

I have written about my new cycling computer before. The VDO M6. It has functions I never had previously. Heart rate. Gradient. Elevation gain. Time spent in each of 4 pre-defined training zones. Temperature. Stopwatch. And, with the optional Cadence Kit, current, average, and maximum cadence.

Well, this week I purchased the Cadence Kit. It’s optional, and I wasn’t sure I needed it. Then, while training on the spinning bike, I noticed how much attention I pay to the cadence display. A lot. I have learned that by increasing my cadence while in a lower gear, I actually increase my wattage output. This is a lot easier than pushing a higher gear. I’m using my cardiovascular system to generate the power, rather than my leg muscles which tires more quickly.

For the most part, the higher the intensity, the higher your cadence should be. The reason for this higher cadence is that it stresses the aerobic component more. A higher cadence engages slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers, which are the oxidative fibers, thus saving your powerful and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers for when you need them – sprinting, attacking, climbing, surging. Pedaling with a higher cadence also generates decreased muscle tension and blood vessel compression. This allows blood to flow to the muscles with O2 and carry waste products away easier.

On the spinning bike, I average 90-110 rpm, sometimes higher, during my workouts. Can I do the same on the road? I have no idea, but I’m about to find out.

Most social cyclists sit on a cadence between 75-85rpm. They’ll plod along at one tempo for hours, regardless of changing terrain. What we suggest you learn is increase your cadence to between 90-100rpm regardless how flat or hilly the route is. – BikeRoar

Well, I’ll try.

I installed the kit on the Roberts frame for now. I’ll be training on this bike mostly for the next 2 months while I’m back at the cottage, cycling the quiet, rural roads. By the time I return, I will have a better understanding of what cadence I maintain on the flats, and while climbing.

How will I train differently, you ask.

I’ll try riding at 90-100rpm most of the time, and increase my cadence on small grades, remembering to control my cadence through gear choice, and not by increasing my physical effort. Once I have this down pat, I’ll increase my physical effort and pedal a faster cadence in a higher gear, which means I’ll go faster uphill 😂

Sounds easy enough. Right?

Stay tuned 😀