Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cross Country Ski Trip

I went for cross country ski trip with the family over the Dr Martin Luther King Holiday, driving up to the cross country routes starting from Hyak off of Interstate 90.  It was a gorgeous day, with fresh snow still falling most of the way up.

Getting the car packed up with all the gear is much more of a challenge since having the 2 year old.

Yours truly, still smiling.
As is climbing the grades while pulling Madeline and the trailer on skis.  Whether by bike or ski, this is where I'm most in my element, chugging up hill and pinning myself against my anaerobic threshold.  Fortunately, the bike/ski/jogging trailer we were able to procure from craigslist is very adaptable, and just fits in the wife's Subaru.

Yay!  Fresh powder!

Generally, my motto on the descents while skiing is "fast, dangerous, and outta control," and I was somewhat worried that with all the elevation gained, it would be a difficult descent.  But getting back down was no problem, as the snow was perfectly fresh groomed.  The last time I had been on this route, it was clear and icy, which was too fast for my abilities at the time, but this time the fresh powder enabled me to carve wide curves and get around the switchbacks as needed.

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 Vision

There are several things I want to accomplish cycling wise over the course of the new year, so I’m boldly setting a marker in what passes for stone these days in the form of this post.

I will be headed to the big island of Hawaii in February, so naturally, I will want to bring my bike with me and try to ride Mauna Kea.  This is one of the biggest climbs in the world, from sea level to ~14,000’ though we are staying at an AirBNB in Waimea, which is on the northern half of the island but not at sea level.  Given my poor form and mileage totals, I will have to ramp up my mileage in a steady and sustainable way early in the year.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it all the way to the top, the important part of the goal for me is to try hard enough to be satisfied with the effort and preparation.

From there, I will have to come down from the summit, in the words of Rene Daumal, back to the reality that it will still be cold and dreary February in Seattle upon my return.  However, the days will be starting to lengthen, and after some recovery, I will set my sights on having a good rest of the year riding.  The goals for this being what eluded me in 2019, to build form steadily and sustainably.  I’ve been experimenting with a new tool in this regard, which is taking and logging my orthostatic heart rate each morning to assess how rested or tired I am.  Over the month that I’ve been self-assessing with this I’ve had the orthostatic rate range from a low of 6 when I felt really sick to a high of 40 after several healthy days of rest.  I’m still working on developing the right ranges for myself but it seems like 20 is about the minimum it should be to go out and ride.

I’m looking forward to the challenges of putting this new knowledge into practice in 2020!

Monday, January 6, 2020

2019 Year in Review

2019 had lots of setbacks and challenges for me, and it’s important to me to both acknowledge and learn from them.

I fell short of my mileage goals again this year.  Part of that may be that I had set the bar too high at 5,000 miles, but I also like setting goals that are a stretch for me.  Falling short was mostly due to 4 factors:  having a two year old in the house, remodeling / moving, weather, and a persistent hip / hamstring issue.  While the toddler is pretty self-explanatory in terms of limiting time on the bike, the other factors combined to make the year less than ideal from a cycling perspective.  In February we had a very unusual for Seattle weather where there was snow on the ground for most of February.  This resulted in not getting a winter base of training that increased steadily into the spring and summer.

I was also remodeling our home during the late spring, doing much of the painting myself, and finally moved in during the early summer.  The painting, moving, organizing, and arranging also took a toll, using energy that I could have used riding more.  By June, we were finally moved in, and this saw my mileage increase rapidly, as I had been aching to get more time on the bike up until then.  At first, it felt great to be getting the miles in finally; however, by about mid July, I started having tightness in my hamstrings that wasn’t just temporary soreness.  So I missed some of the best riding times of the year in August and September while alternately trying to rest my legs and get out there again.  Finally, in October, I began seeing a PT and bike fitter, who showed me that my glutes weren’t activating fully.  He prescribed me some exercises and refitted my #1 bike, but also suggested that one of the reasons was a lack of cross training.  Thinking back, in prior years, I had done different activities, such as hiking, cross country skiing, basketball, and tennis which balanced out the time riding.  Since having my daughter, I had come to concentrate only on cycling to the exclusion of these other balancing activities.

There are some great lessons in here for my overall health going forward, and I will follow up with another post later this week on my 2020 goals which will include these lessons learned.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Bike Fit

I’m a bit embarrassed, actually, as yesterday, I discovered that the seat post height on my #1 road bike had dropped about 5mm.

The backstory is that this year has been a struggle to gain consistent form, as the demands of having a two year old child and doing a large home remodel, combined with some very unfavorable for Seattle weather in February have left me unable to ride as much as I usually had in the winter and spring.  Finally, over June and July, I was able to get to an average of about 120 miles a week between my road and commuting rides – it felt great for a while, and I really started to feel back to myself.

About a month ago; however, I started noticing increased tightness and pain with my hips/glutes/hammies/low back.  I continued riding about the same mileage for a little while, adding stretching, massage, and foam rolling to my routine.  I’ve also had to reduce my riding to close to 0 and have added core strength exercises to the routine as well.  I took a test ride last week after feeling a bit looser, but the original spots of pain and tightness returned within about 3 miles, so I shut it down again.

Yesterday, immediately into my first ride back/another test ride, I noticed the seat felt low and turned around to investigate.  I discovered the 5mm discrepancy, set it to the correct position, and did about 12 miles, feeling much better than I had previously.  My legs today don’t feel any worse than they did yesterday, and I’m hopeful that with the bikes’ setups now matching at the correct values, I can begin upping the mileage again without the negative consequences.

I’m surprised with myself for not noticing the differences in saddle height, but the bike fitting lesson in this to me is that when something doesn’t feel right, check to ensure everything is set up right first.

In the meantime, I’ve scheduled a bike fit with a recommended PT/Bike Fitter, which I still think I’d like to come in for, as I’ve aged 5 years since the last one, which was coincidentally about 5 years ago.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Riding Lots is Good for You

According to researchers, it turns out that heeding Eddy's advice to, "Ride lots" is good for you.  From the paper, "Increased Longevity among Tour de France Cyclists", the major finding was that "repeated very intense exercise prolongs life span in well trained practitioners. Our findings underpin the importance of exercising without the fear that becoming exhausted might be bad for one's health."

Thursday, August 8, 2019

How to Enhance the Chances of Being Seen

I came across this article from Trek on the ABC's of Awareness, which, of course, is meant to sell product.  There is, however, lots of useful information that cyclists can use to improve their chances of being seen by the average motorist.

To summarize:

"A" stands for Always On, meaning that daytime running lights should be used.

"B" is for Biomotion, which has shown that the human perceptual system is hard wired to notice things that are alive and moving in ways that animals do.  The most dynamic part of cycling in relation to biomotion would typically be the legs/feet/pedal, which is where always on or contrasting colors should be based for maximum visibility.

"C" represents Contrast, and basically represents that something that contrasts with the surrounding environment will tend to be noticed more than something that blends in.  Basically, the idea being to go flouro during the day and reflective when dark.

Though I'm usually loathe to wear bright colours, some yellow shoes with reflective patches may be in my future. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Mount Baker 2019

I rode up the Mt Baker Highway SR 542 to Artist’s Point this week.  It had been a couple of years since I’d ridden it, and I mistakenly parked an extra 5 miles out from the summit.  There is a parking lot for the ski area I also had forgotten how far up the climb continues past this point.

I set my second to slowest times on the climb, but had some PB’s on the descent, indicating that I’m *rounding* into form nicely.