The perfect motivator … 🤔

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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 … 🤔

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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 … 😂

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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 😀

Tick Tock … 🤔

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This clock now hangs proudly in my den.

It was a birthday gift from my son several years ago. We hung it in the bike shop. That was appropriate. Right? Well, I don’t spend that much time there, particularly this time of year. What a shame. So, I moved it into the house, and hung it on the wall I face mostly while relaxing in the den.

I love this clock. You see, my son made it using chainrings – Suntour 52/42 – from one of my first road bikes. Back in the 80’s, Suntour was a popular brand used on mid-priced bikes. The company no longer exists, but in it’s prime produced quality derailleurs, and chainrings 😂at a reasonable price.

The clock got me thinking … 🤔

I have a lot of left over bike parts. Handlebars. Chains. Derailleurs. Wheels. Inner tubes. Tires. Cranks. What do I do with it all? Apparently, I can recycle the tires. That’s a good idea. I’ve seen sculptures made from chains, coat hangers from handlebars, and chairs from inner tubes. And, I see all of these components listed on eBay being offered up for someone else to enjoy.

At the moment, I have 3 SLK stems and Dura-Ace cranks with racing chainrings sitting on my TV stand. I’m trying to decide what to do with them. What better way than to have them in constant view. A constant reminder to do something with them. The stems are too long, and I no longer use them. And the Dura-Ace chainrings are too large for these parts. I have converted my road bikes to compact setups.

I could hang them on the wall as art. I love looking at them. Or, I could sell them. They are worth a lot of money. Then again, I could build another bike … 😂

Do you have other suggestions?

Hydrotherapy … 🤔

 

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I spent the past weekend in Whistler|Backcomb where my daughter treated me to a Scandinavian Spa experience. I was sceptical. I have a steam bath most days at the club. Why would I want one with a whole lot of other people for 3 hours?

Boy, was I wrong. I can’t wait to do it again!

Do you know what hydrotherapy is? I didn’t. I get wet a lot, but never considered it as therapy.

This is how the Scandinave Spa Whistler’s website defines hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water with contrast in temperature to revitalize, maintain and restore health. The recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its thermal effects. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. Alternating hot and cold water improves elimination of toxins, decreases inflammation and stimulates circulation.

For 3 hours we wandered the facility, experiencing the heated pools, saunas, cold baths, and relaxation rooms. Heat for 10-15 minutes 😀 Cold water for 10-20 seconds 😕 And, then relation rooms for 10-15 minutes 😀 We did this circuit 5 times.

Oh. I forgot. You can’t talk. There are hush signs everywhere 🤐 Three hours of heat, cold, relaxation, and quiet. That was the hardest part. I’m gregarious by nature. I like talking with people, even if I have never met them before. I didn’t dare make eye contact with anyone.

At the end, we sat in the sun with a warm cup of tea before having a cleansing shower.

Now I take my steam baths at the club differently. I stay in 10-15 minutes, take a cold shower for as long as I can stand it, wash off in warm water, and then slowly towel off, dress, and pack up.

Heat. Cold. Relax.

 

Polarized training … 🤔

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I have been pleased with my indoor training regimen this winter. I got stronger, more flexible, and improved my VO2 Max. But training in the gym is not the same as cycling outside. Now that Spring has finally arrived, and the weather is improving, I’m switching things up. I’m going to get outside whenever possible, switch to a Polarized Training programme, and body-weight strengthening exercises so that I can train anywhere, even when a gym is not available.

Like at the cottage 😂

What is Polarized Training?

Training at an easy pace for 80% of the sessions, and essentially flat out for 20% of them is known as polarized training. It is how elite athletes train.

I’m not new to this technique. Just never knew it had a name. The key is to go slow most of the time, but work hard 1-2 times each week.

What is slow, and what is hard? 🤔

I don’t have a power meter on my bikes but I do wear a heart rate monitor integrated with my cycling computer, the VDO M6 pictured above. This particular display (there are several) highlights the percentage of ride time spent in each of 4 pre-defined heart rate zones, expressed as a % of MHR. The default zones, and the ones I use, are:

  • Zone 1 – 60-70%
  • Zone 2 – 70-80%
  • Zone 3 – 80-90%
  • Zone 4 – 90-100%

For the ride pictured above, I spent 12% in Zone 1, 59% in Zone 2, 34% in Zone 3, and 1% in Zone 4. This was a relatively hard 4 hour ride. With Polarized Training, I want to see weekly averages that look like this:

  • Zone 1 – 80%
  • Zone 2 – ∅
  • Zone 3 – 10%
  • Zone 4 – 10%

Once or twice a week, I will find a hill and do high-effort repeated climbs getting my heart rate up to 80-100% of my MHR.

Without the hard days you will only make minor gains, if any.
4 x 8 minute intervals ridden at 90% of VO2 max appear to generate the most gains. These hard days need to be done once or twice per week.

For me, that would be 4 climbs up a 3 km climb with an average grade of 5-6%.

The other days of the week, I will ride in Zone 1. That is easier said than done. That’s slower than I normally ride, and is best done alone. It means not challenging the hills, and staying off the wheel ahead.

I’ll try this for a month.

Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists.

The key benefit of this training method is that despite putting in a lot of time and accumulating high mileage, there is sufficient time to recover.

It is not possible to do all of this training at a high pace.
The majority of the time, around 75-85%, is spent in zone 1. The remainder of the time is in the other zones, with emphasis on high intensity. It appears that this low intensity training provides many of the adaptions required for endurance performance without over stressing the athlete.

If you are not convinced, I suggest you read Pieter Van Pietersen’s article entitled “Polarized training for cyclists“.

S*** … 😟

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Ladies, you can sit this one out if you like.

Like many men my age, I occasionally suffer from a bought of prostatitis, an inflamed prostate.

I don’t mind getting up throughout the night to relieve myself, but I hate having to interrupt a ride to take a pee, particularly when I’m cycling with others. Not only is it embarrassing, but it ruins the ride for everyone.

So, today I visited with my doctor, and Googled “Foods that cause Prostatitis” beforehand. This what I discovered.

Common foods that have been found to exacerbate prostatitis symptoms include:
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot peppers
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Acidic foods
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Caffeine

S*** … 😟

I don’t like spicy foods, hot peppers, or alcohol BUT do enjoy coffee (a lot of coffee), bread, lemons, limes, and tomatoes. My homemade energy gels include lemon and lime juice. I drink 2 cups of coffee every morning before workouts, and then several more later in the day. And, I often carbo-load the day before lengthy rides, or cycling events with spaghetti, and homemade tomato sauce.

What? Am I causing this myself?

So, what does my doctor think about this?

S*** … 😟

He agreed!

Coffee is a diuretic, and acidic foods (orange juice, limes, lemons, and tomatoes) may be the culprits. He suggested I eliminate all highly acidic foods from my diet for a month to see if it makes a difference 🤔

Otherwise, he suggested they are drug therapies that may help.

S*** … 😟

This will be interesting … 😒

I’ll wean myself off coffee over the next week, substitute water and herbal teas, revise my energy gel recipe to exclude lemon and lime juice, and find a replacement for my post workout sandwiches which generally include sliced tomato.

I’ll give this a try for a month as suggested, and report back. I know there may be other causes, and actually wrote about this 4 years ago. I may not have the most prostate-friendly saddles but they are comfortable in every other way, and have been for a long time. I don’t think they are the problem. I also understand that excessive exercise, particularly squats, can trigger this inflammation.

S*** … 😟

If you have experience with this problem, please comment.

Oh yeah … 🤔 The above photo was taken while in a coffee shop waiting to see my doctor. You can see my coffee cup reflected in the sunglasses. I will also have to stop visiting my favourite, local coffee shops I enjoy so much.

S*** … 😟