Monday, May 26, 2008

Training Sunday, 5/25/08

Second Metric Century Complete!
Sunday started off with a plan to bike east along Lake Ontario to Sodus Point and back, a relatively flat 50 miler to get me some easy saddle time after yesterday's battle with the hills, and see how the knee felt the next day. Weather was supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny, with winds from the NNW. Given that winds out of the north cross Lake Ontario and tend to be mighty chilly, I planned a route that kept me a mile or two inland to avoid the direct breeze from the lake for as long as I could, which added about 6 miles in total to the round trip. So, at roughly 11 a.m., I hopped on the bike with my 100-oz. Camelbak full of water and was off.

The first 15 miles or so went without incident, as I was far enough off the lake that the slight non-frigid breeze felt great, the grass and trees were as green as could be, birds were chirping -- you could have pulled the scene straight from Song of the South and sang Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah along with the Uncle Remus and Mr. Bluebird. I pushed past Pultneyville at about mile 16 and eventually stopped at a parking lot in Williamson around mile 23 for a five-minute stretch break, snack, and big gulp of Gatorade.

From here, my route to Sodus Point forced me north onto Lake Road (interestingly enough, right beside Lake Ontario), at which point that nice gentle breeze became a frigid wind. Thankfully, it was only another four miles or so (mostly downhill) to the point, where I stopped at a picnic table near the 'Point Hots' establishment for a bio break, warming session in the sun, another swig of Gatorade, and a red-hot at approximately 1 p.m.

Turning around for the return trip, I wasn't really looking forward to the climb up out of Sodus, but still imagined it had to be easier than yesterday's climbs. And it was. The climb out of Sodus also helped keep me a bit warmer as I had to follow Lake Road for a spell before I could turn inland again. Afer about three miles I turned south away from the lake, and resumed my trek westward back toward home at a much more comfortable temperature. By this time I'd put about 30 miles into the trip, and after the climb up from Sodus, my legs were feeling a bit weak -- I was fine from an aerobic and energy standpoint, but could tell that my leg muscles needed a bit of recovery time. I'll have to watch out for this during the century, and try not to burn up my muscle stores early in the ride, staying in the aerobic zone and spinning at higher candences as long as I can.

I continued west at a fairly leisurely pace, still sipping from my Camelbak regularly, and had a couple of fruit newtons while on the bike to provide a bit more energy. Despite my weak legs, I started convincing myself that I was fine, this was a normal feeling I should get used to, and I had a nice long flat ride back home to recover on. Seemed to work fairly well, and although I never really recovered the leg strength on the ride, I wasn't in bad shape by any stretch. At mile 47 I found another little turnoff in the woods for a bio break as well as a chance to finish up the Gatorade and have another snack (GORP). Once I hopped back on the bike, I started doing the math in my head and realized I should get home around mile 56. That seemed like a bit of a waste. I was in very flat territory, still feeling pretty good, and was going to come home just 6 miles short of my second metric century? Couldn't let that happen, especially when I knew the area very well and could easily avoid any hills. So a few miles before home I decided I'd hop on the town bike trail (at a very easy speed, of course -- don't want to run into any joggers) and head west across town to recovery, then hope back on one of my favorite roads with the wind slightly at my back for the last couple miles back east, which should put me right at 62 miles.

Right after I'd decided that, I took a swig out of my Camelbak and finished my 100 oz. of water I'd carried with me. Out of fluids, I figured I was fine to complete the last 9 miles without another stop. Perhaps not my brightest move ever, but it wasn't a problem.

Got on the Multi-Use Path (MUP) and coasted west for a couple miles, which drastically brought my average speed down, but certainly improved my leg strength. Came across a few families on bikes, including one with a father at the front of the pack completely oblivious to all traffic and ability to control his bike -- he literally rode me off the MUP into the grass (but did apologize as he struggled not to fall). His wife, at the end of the pack, was having trouble staying on the bike too, but only because she was laughing so hard.

Hopped off the MUP at Five-Mile-Line Road, cruised north to Klem, and turned easy for the last leg of my journey. No problems, feeling good. Cruised into the driveway a short spell later, with a total distance of 62.39 miles at a moving time of 3:59:13 for an average moving speed of 15.6 mph.

Ride Statistics:
  • Distance: 62.39 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 15.6 mph
  • Avg. Speed: 14.0 mph (w/stops)
  • Max Speed: 25.9 mph
  • Avg. HR: 147 bpm
  • Calories Burned: ~3823
  • Time Moving: 4 hours
  • Total Climbing: 2,123 feet

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/24/08

Following the recent knee troubles, I took an entire week off hoping to get all my parts back in better shape. By Tuesday my knee felt much better, but by Thursday middle of the day it was hurting again. Definitely seems to come and go, either on or off. By Saturday morning it was barely noticeable, and I didn't think I could put off training any more, so I hopped on the bike for an easy 40-mile spin. Knee was fairly well behaved most of the ride -- I could feel it and had a bit of pain, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with.

My mistake, however, was in not mapping out my route directly, and instead picking some general directions without regard to topography. I started off at a nice leisurely pace, and even explored a couple neighborhood developments as a meandered around before getting serious about getting somewhere again.

About 20 miles in I encountered a hill just south of Egypt (Egypt, NY). {skipping the lame jokes here, they're just too easy...} The climb past the stop light looked reasonable, and with the many trees around the area, I couldn't see that the climb continued. And continued. And continued. Each bend was more higher-grade climbing. I made it to the top, but I'd really burnt myself out, and was sorely wishing I'd taken my bike in previously to swap out the rear cassette for one with an easier gearing or two (currently the Felt has a true 50/34 compact double on the front, and a 12-25 on the back. Pretty sure I'd best get at least a 12-27 if I want to save my knees in the long run). Had been trying very hard to stay seated and avoid excess knee pressure, but when the grade started showing as 10-12%, it got to be too much to do comfortably.
Once I reached the top, I found a nice spot of grass to take a break in, drink some Gatorade, and munch on a banana for a few minutes. From there, the descent was rapid, exciting, and a bit cold (all that sweat from the climb dried out in a hurry at 33.5 mph -- and I was riding the brakes). Once I got to the bottom, I had a brief spell of flat land to enjoy, and followed another rider until I saw a familiar road -- turned on to Valentown Road with the intent of starting my way back, and as I turned north toward home at the next intersection, I ended up with the thrill of another steep climb.

Distance wasn't quite as bad, but my legs still hadn't recovered from the last climb, and the grade was just as high if not higher. I made it roughly halfway up the hill and pulled over to take a breather and convince myself that hills weren't evil, but should be thought of as friendly training opportunities. Despite the little voice in my head telling me to walk the bike up the hill (how embarrassing!) I turned my attitude a bit more positive, hopped back on the bike and continued up the hill out of the saddle for the half the distance, then sat down and pushed the rest of the way up in my 34/25 easiest gear, again wishing I had something easier on the rear cassette.

Made it to the top, and had a beautiful view to enjoy while I 'cruised' along the peak in my granny gear, as that was all my legs could handle for the moment. I turned off the peak toward the west, climbed the small remainder of Turk Hill Road south of Fairport, and from there took Turk Hill Road all the way back to Penfield on my way back north. I figured the hills on Turk Hill Road would be difficult, but was quite pleased to find that due to the rolling nature of the hills, in most cases I had plenty of speed on the downhill swing to make the uphill journey on the opposite side fairly easily. These may look like big hills in a car, but compared to the grades I had dealt with previously, they were relative 'cake.'

Once I got back to Penfield I could tell I was still a bit low on energy, and was fighting a 10mph wind out of the northwest, but I wanted to get at least 40 miles in, so I zig-zagged through Penfield and on into Webster, leaving my last few miles a straight eastward journey down flat, smooth, friendly Klem Road before turning for home.

A post-ride review of my route shows that pre-planning my route would have allowed me to avoid the high-grade hills fairly easily, but twice I made "less than optimal" choices that led to the big climbs. However, for future reference, I've found two great hills for challenging climbing practice.

Ride Statistics:
  • Distance: 43 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 14.6 mph
  • Max Speed: 33.5 mph
  • Avg. HR: 151
  • Max HR: 191 (on the hills, of course)
  • Climbing: 2331 feet
  • Calories Burned: ~ 2544

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/17/08

Got up early in an attempt to get some miles in before the thunderstorms hit... turned into a bit of a rough day, however. With a temperature in the mid-50s and a 10mph south wind, I headed south into the wind to start the ride. Before I got half a mile from the house, my knee was giving me trouble. Five miles into the ride, I was almost in tears from the pain (despite taking a VERY easy pace). I could only manage about 12 mph on the flats, spinning at a cadence near 100.

I kept pushing as best I could, mostly because I didn't want to have to call anybody to come pick me up -- I turned around at the first convenient spot that would allow me to avoid any climbs, and by mile 15 I was either used to my knee hurting or it wasn't quite as bad, because the flat route north on 250 with the wind at my back had me at an average speed over 20 mph -- knee still hurt, but wasn't as bad. And I wasn't pushing hard at all. Got home with a total distance of 21.5 miles (avg. speed 15.9 mph), and decided this just wasn't going to work. Not quite sure what the next steps are, but I don't want to repeat a ride like this anytime soon... at a minimum will skip the Sunday ride.

Distance: 21.55 miles
Time: 1:21:04
Avg. Speed: 15.9 mph
Max Speed: 28.3 mph
Avg. HR: 146 bpm
Max HR: 174 bpm
Calories Burned: ~ 1331

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Seeing as it's been a few months, I thought it might be helpful if I provided some background on what this Blog (weB LOG) is all about for those readers who are new to this site. You see, last year my lovely fiance (now wife) talked me into training for and running in a duathlon -- a 2 mile run and 10-mile bike ride, followed by another 2-mile run. So really, if we want to be honest with ourselves, all that follows is really her fault.

I enjoyed the training and getting in shape, and got quite a kick out of the biking, although still can't say as I'm a fan of running. But as I started using the bike to get in shape, we made a deal -- if I stuck with it, ran the duathlon, and put in a certain number of miles on my flat-bar bike, I was allowed to buy a road bike. Well, we did, and I did, so I did, and ended up purchasing an end-of-year demo-unit Felt F75 road bike.

On to 2008. Since 2007's goal was to compete in the duathlon, I decided I wanted to set an ambitious goal for 2008. My twin brother has run a marathon (a very impressive feat, but as mentioned before, I don't like running unless it's to chase down the ice cream truck). What could I do that would be the equivalent on the bike, something I enjoy? A century, of course! And as much as I wanted to pick the metric century (100 km), which is quite an achievement in its own right, goal setting after New Year's is all about setting truly challenging goals, so I decided I'd do an imperial century. (Not to mention my little brother just completed his first imperial century today... sneaky little goober!)

Next question was, how would I accomplish this... initially I planned on doing a solo century toward the end of the summer after I'd had all summer to ride and get in shape. When I learned about the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure here in Rochester, however, I saw an opportunity to not only help the community and fight a disease that affects several members of my family, but also a chance to pull in my friends and family as we worked toward a common goal. Since then, our Tour de Cure team, "Beats Running," has grown to 10 riders, with team members signing up for the whole range of distances, from 15 miles all the way to two of us attempting the 100-mile route! This blog, then, is my training journal to prepare for the event, including fund-raising, team training, nutrition, and other 'excitement' that pops up in our quest. I'm proud to say that I can already feel a difference in my overall health since I started the program back in January, having lost 14 pounds (out of a goal of 21 lbs.), re-acquainted myself with the weight set at the local gym, and had a great time doing it.

For those who are interested, the actual ride is on Sunday, June 8, starting from Mendon Park, NY (south of Rochester). Our team is still looking for riders who would like to join us for a fun day of biking and community service, as well as sponsorship (see link here to join our team.)

To date, we have raised $2370 for the American Diabetes Association, which I consider an excellent achievement from a team of complete rookies, and I'm quite proud of every single team member as they've truly stepped up to the challenge. As part of my training, I've already completed the metric century (actually went about 67 miles), and am starting to believe I may actually be able to finish the 100-miler in a few more weeks!

We have more work to do, but so far things are falling into place nicely. Wish us luck!!!

Training Thursday, 5/15/08

Went out on an easy training ride, hoping to rehab my knee a bit and see how it would hold up. Took a 2-hour loop through Webster, into Walworth, west to Penfield, then back to Webster on a nice sunny 58°F afternoon. Knee held up fairly well, but I did struggly a bit coming west on 441 on a series of hills -- even spinning in my smallest gear I had trouble getting up a few of the hills, as I was trying to avoid standing to reduce knee stress. Once I got back to Penfield, however, it was pretty much a straight, flat route back to Webster.

Ride Statistics:
Distance: 31.3 miles
Time: 1:56
Speed: 16.1 mph
Climbing: 378 feet
Max Speed: 32.5 mph
Avg. HR: 153 bpm
Max HR: 203 bpm
Calories burned: ~ 1941

AND, congratulations to my little brother on completing his first Imperial Century. Awesome job, Squab!

{Next morning update -- knee is NOT behaving at all. Gonna be a long day at work!}

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sawbones Update, 5/14/08

Well, caved in and went to see the orthopod around my hurting knee. After waiting for a long long long time, he took a look and confirmed it appears to be a torn meniscus (issue previously known about due to an MRI six years ago), and that I'd probably aggravated it again. Said when it got too painful, call in and get an MRI done and they'd clean it up arthroscopically, but until then, I wasn't going to damage it any worse, it might get better/go away as things settle in my knee, and any physical therapy he'd prescribe would involve me sitting on a bike anyway, so...

1) Keep icing/elevating at night.
2) OK to keep riding bike.
3) Take ibuprofen.
4) Avoid knee twisting/turning for a spell (i.e. volleyball, basketball, running).
5) May want to try a compression sleeve -- helps for some people.
6) Consider trying glucosamine/chondroitin supplements -- helps for some people.
>6) Call doc again when it gets so bad I'm ready for more drastic (i.e. surgical) measures.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Training Tuesday, 5/13/08

Well, I've been off the bike for more than a week dealing with some pretty rough knee pain (the usual -- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Pain was mostly gone by Monday, so I tried an easy training ride Tuesday afternoon (following a bike fit review with the cycling physiologist), and it didn't take long to flare up again. NOT encouraging. On the bright side, the week off gave me plenty of time to get the bike tuned up prior to the century ride on June 8. Sounds like it's time to visit the Doc, while making sure to stock up on ibuprofen for the long ride in June...

Today's slow and easy ride stats:

Distance: 14.44 miles
Time: 52:52
Speed: 16.4 mph
Avg. HR: 141
Calories burned: 902
Weather: 63°F and sunny

Sunday, May 4, 2008

First Metric Century!!!

So I set out on my first metric century this weekend. The local bicycling club had scheduled a 42-mile ride on back roads through some moderate hills, and I figured that would be a good training ride. Realizing the start of the ride was at a school only 12 miles from my home, why not bike to the ride, and then back home, make it an even 66 miles? Seemed like a good idea at the time... I loaded up the bike with 100 oz. of water in my Camelbak, a banana, two small bags of GORP that Mrs. Beagle had kindly packed for me, six raspberry newtons, a 16 oz. bottle of the local Gatorade look-alike, and a packet of raspberry Hammer Gel.

Headed out around noon to fairly ominous skies, 55 degree temperatures, and 17-20 mph winds out of the west-southwest. Heading basically southeast to the start of the ride, the 12 miles from home to the starting point was quite easy -- wind made keeping a line a bit challenging, but sure was no problem with speed, and I made it to the starting point with plenty of time to spare despite taking it really easy. Got off the bike and quickly realized how cold things were when you weren't moving, so I huddled in a doorway at the school until it was time to go again (and was never again cold on the ride).

Some last-minute route adjustments were made by the ride leader to avoid some heavy traffic construction areas at the southern-most tip of our route. As we took off at 1 p.m., I had initially planned to stay in the middle of the pack, but was actually having trouble going that slow up the hills, as my bike only has a compact double, and those with the triples were able to meander more slowly up the hill, while I was almost falling over and having trouble pushing my smallest gear while seated, and couldn't go that slow standing. After trying about two hills that way, I saw a group of five riders out about a quarter mile in head of us, and was easily able to join up with them thanks to a couple downhills (my bike seems to like going down hills, and I don't mind so much either).

Once we joined up, our group of six stayed together for about 6-8 miles, before one of our group peeled off to take a different route that took him near his home. Our lead rider set quite a pace, but as we were going mostly south, we weren't headed directly into the wind, so didn't have too bad a time of it. By the time we turned east a few miles later, we'd lost one more of the group, and were down to a foursome. As I we turned east with a nice tailwind, I enjoyed talking to a new friend who had been riding about 15 years. We were riding at a challenging pace, but no so hard that I was worried about burning out. A nice group challenge pace. This worked fine until we hit our next turn point, a long loop to the south and west directly into the wind. At this point, our lead rider kicked it into gear and really pushed us through the wind for the better part of 12 miles. Throw in some hills and this tough pace, and my new friend and I were starting to get worried about pushing too hard, and definitely thinking it was time to hop off the bikes for a quick stretch and something to eat from our packs for energy. Unfortunately, we didn't want to lose the group, so kept pushing. We dropped my new friend around mile 10, and I waited for him at the top of a mild hill, taking the opportunity to pull a banana from my pack and start replenishing my energy, as I was worried I'd start to cramp up soon.

We joined up from there and he and I and pushed to catch the leaders, who were taking an on-bike breather and route check about a half mile down the road at a stop sign. As a group we took about two minutes to breath, I finished my banana, drank about half the sports drink, and off we went again. This break did us all good, as we were able to keep up with our ride leader (who again pulled our group of 4 well over 75% of the time, even though all of us TRIED to take our turns pulling). After about 5 miles, my new friend was again having trouble keeping up, and I could tell he was out of gas, and I wasn't very behind. At this point our route turned east again, with the wind, but unfortunately this was the hilly portion of our ride. Nothing too terrible, but each descent was followed with an even bigger hill, which gets a bit challenging on already wobbly legs. I made it most of the way up the top of the second hill when both of my legs started cramping (quadriceps) as I had to stand to make it up the last few feet of the hill. Was quite worried about falling over while clipped in my legs were in such bad shape, but I was able to get off the ride, unclip both feet, and get my rear on the ground before I got in serious trouble. It wasn't graceful, but I was in the grass with no further damage.

There I decided it was time I took that break I'd been needing for a few minutes. Drank some more sports drink, had a bite of GORP, two newtons, and waited for my buddy to catch up. He was in similar shape, and worried he might cramp up too, so we both took a minute breather there on the hill before completing the remaining hills. At this point my left knee started hurting. Nothing too bad, but it didn't feel quite right.

I made it over the next two hills, just barely reaching the top of the final hill (and the two cyclists who were leading our mini-group) without cramping again. Once there, we spotted the slower contingent we had pulled away from at the beginning of our ride. They'd taken a shortcut and were now back in the midst of everyone. We hopped back in the middle of the group, but somehow our group of four found itself out in front again after a few miles. I stayed with the two leaders for a couple more miles, but quickly lost my buddy again. I tried keeping both groups in site for a while, playing intermediary, but finally gave up and pulled over in a nice field for a few minutes to eat some more, stretch out, and try to regain some strength. Didn't want my new pal to get himself in trouble on his own, and I'd said earlier I wasn't going to leave him as that just didn't seem very nice. Tried out my first packet of gel -- not very tasty, but it certainly helped. Finished off the sports drink, had a few bites of GORP and a couple more newtons, then packed everything up just in time to head off with my friend again.

We only had a couple more miles before the route turned back toward our original starting point. Given that I was struggling at this point, and I knew he was too, I made the call that I was going to split off and head west toward the main route back to my house instead of east back to the school. Wouldn't cut too many miles off the trip, but in case I did get myself in trouble and started cramping again, it was a main route my wife would know how to find me on fairly easily if I did have to call in support. With the slower group coming up behind, he felt safe that he had support if he needed it, so we said our goodbyes and took off on our different directions.

As I set off on my own, I planned to take it easy, ride at my own pace now, and really "test my mettle" to just keep on going. I didn't want to have to call in support, no matter how bad I was hurting, and realized this could be a huge milestone for me -- my first metric century, and a good test for my upcoming century in June (I've heard that if you can do 1/2 to 2/3 of the 100 miles comfortable, a full century is no problem). Well, I wasn't comfortable, but I was still moving!

As I cleared the first small hill on my way to the main thoroughfare home, I think I cussed out loud when I saw the larger looming "double-hill" up in head of my. Darn, I'd forgotten about that sucker! Well, the hill wasn't getting any smaller by baring my teeth at it, so I got my speed up on the incoming downhill, then pushed up as best I could, standing on my way up until just before I thought I might cramp up, then setting and hitting my smallest gear again for the last 20 feet or so. Once again I thought how nice a triple might be right now. I cleared the top of the hill, pulled off to the right, and took a moment to eat my last two newtons and drink some more water before heading into the town of Fairport.

One minor hill in Fairport, then a straight shot north on Route 250 about 10 miles home (most of it flat after two bigger hills). Still fighting cramps in my legs, I wasn't so fond of being on a road with more traffic, but it had a wide berm, and other than about a quarter mile of big intersection, it'd be fairly easy to keep myself toward the edge of the road in case I had to bail. Thankfully, I made it up both hills and breathed a huge sigh of relief as I was even starting to get a touch of energy back. Now, by no means was I in good shape, but other than feeling a bit weak in the legs and my left knee starting to ping a bit more loudly, I was starting to think I really might make it home on my own.

Went about five more miles north (fairly flat), and took a pre-emptive stretch break along the side of a road near a gas station. I knew the rest of the way by heart -- flat, straight, wind abreast -- I could do this! Finished the last few miles on autopilot, then looked at my cycling computer -- only 58 miles! I couldn't go home THIS close to a metric... so I made a couple-mile loop around the neighborhood to get over 62 miles before coming to rest at the front door, completely exhausted, sore, and by now limping pretty well due to the left knee. But I made it. It was only later in the evening that I looked at my route (Garmin Edge GPS) and saw that it had turned off and cut the route over a stretch -- I must have turned it off for a minute waiting for my friend at one of my stops, and forgotten to turn it back on for a while. Thankfully, the part I missed made a right triangle, so with just a touch of help from Pythagoras I was able to determine I had actually gone 67 miles.

Looking back, I don't think the 62 miles would have been nearly as bad if we hadn't tried to keep up with our group pacer for so long (and I know he was trying to take it easy on us). Should have let myself get dropped back when I could tell I was going to burn out, but I wasn't experienced enough to realize how debilitating that effort to keep up would turn out to be, and wasn't confident enough to finish up alone that far from familiar territory. Things to know for next time. Also learned, without a doubt, when I do the century, I want to stop every 10-15 miles, eat something stretch, and in general keep my energy up. When my body tells me "hey, you should rest and stretch for a spell, and perhaps refuel a bit," I should listen to it -- it seems to be smarter than me.

I am concerned about my left knee hurting as badly as it does. I pushed a week ago and had some left knee pain that took two days to subside, and I'm definitely in worse shape now (left knee, left side of the knee cap). Hoping it comes from pushing too hard, and isn't something I'll have to fight for every longer-distance ride.

Anyhow, final ride statistics are below:

  • Distance -- 67 miles
  • Avg. Speed -- 15.4 mph
  • Max Speed -- 28.8 mph
  • Avg. HR -- 152
  • Max HR -- 181
  • Calories Burned -- ~ 4000
Woohooie, 1st Metric Century Completed!!!
  • Breakfast -- scrambled eggs, 4 pieces bacon, 4 pieces wheat toast, orange juice, water
  • Lunch -- 6 raspberry newtons, banana, GORP, Wegman's MVP Sports Drink, 60 oz. water, raspberry HammerGel
  • Dinner -- gnocchi in red sauce with gourmet-chopped red and green peppers

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/3/08

No biking today, instead joined up with my friends for a 4's volleyball tournament. We played fairly well on the day, coming out first in our pool, getting a bye through the first round of playoffs, winning our way to the finals in the second round, and then getting a solid education in the finals. The opposing team was definitely better than us and should have won, but as in all cases, we had plenty of opportunities that we missed and mistakes made we'd like to do over. All-in-all, though, a successful tournament and a fun day with friends. Back and right shoulder were slightly sore at the end of the day, but nothing serious.