Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wide Load-Bontrager Rhythm Pro 750mm Bar

For those of you new to monocogging or those of us that are the old folk, there are some things you most know in order to be a strong SSer. Sure, legs are the main dish and without a strong set of gams, you aint goin nowheres. Strong upper body is also a big plus. You are spending more time out of the saddle and we dont have the luxury that our geared comrades have with sitting and spinning.

Wide Load Indeed
What is often overlooked is breathing. Yeah, I know-duh! Seriously, any veteran SSer will tell you how important it is, and how to control it. What alot of virgin SSers dont know is that the secret in helping this is a wider bar. I find it a little puzzling to see that the “specperts” are still putting 620 and 640mm bars on SS bikes. Most people leave them just because they are there-glue factory items. Simple lesson here. Now I am not a scientist or a guru in body kinematics or anything like that, but I have been doing this for quite some time and have made all of the same mistakes that newbies make. When the trail goes vert, you need to get out of the saddle-no getting around it. Your legs can only take you so far before you start struggling. With the shorter bar, you can only extend your arms so far to get that bike a rockin. The wider bar allows you to do two things; 1) get much more leverage to power that steed up those climbs and really apply some serious torque and 2) it opens up your chest to allow more air into the lungs. Quite simple; air+controlled power=shorter times going anaerobic which leads to a faster, more efficient rider.

I was riding 630′s for some time and moved up to 700mm Stylo WC bars, but thanks to my rep-Jon Rogers, I was able to get a couple of Bontrager Rhythm Pro 750mm wide bars. Yeah, these are w–i–d–e! The other big benefit to these bars are the fact they are meant for all mountain riding, which means they are stiff, strong and flex free-all things a SSer looks for in a bar. These bars come in at 325 grams, no light weight, but not bad for a bar made for taking a beating. I took a quick ride today and noticed immediately the difference on the climbs. The 700′s were good, but these are gooder! I felt as if I had more control on descents. Now a bar this wide can be a little sketchy through the tight stuff, but unless you are riding in the Amazon, probably wont be an issue. Plus they are Bontrager, and I am a Bontrager Harlot. These are flex free and a minimal 25mm rise, which I dont like, but they dont make 750mm wide flat bar and the rise isminimal.

Now these may be 2 wide for some, but you can trim as needed, but I wouldnt trim too much. I usually dont give a review on something so soon, but these warrant it. If you are new, or old to SSing-give these wider bars a go and you to will be sucking…uh more air.

I feel Good-Thank you James Brown

Today showed me how well my training program is going thus far-You liked “thus far”, didnt you?-I knew it. My training in the past has been haphazard at best. Sure, I had good success last year, but most of that was attributed to my overall fitness level, too. 3 children, full time job, laundry, cooking-eh sorry. December I decided, if I am going to keep up with the youngins’ in the expert SS field at my age, I had better figure something out-and quick. So I put in 1200 base miles and started intervals in march. Last year, being the moron that I am, I did intervals in January and February with 0 base miles-BRILLIANT! Way to snatch defeat out of the hands of victory, idiot!

Anyway…Had a pretty good finish last week at Patapsco with a 3rd in the expert SS class. Didnt feel great at the end which had me a little worried about my plan. Wasnt sure if all of this was working or not. Well, I think todays ride confirmed that it is working; and well. How do I know this? My max HR is 200. During most of my races last year, I was in the high 190′s most of the time. Last weeks race saw a 191. Todays ride, doing much of the same course with more climbing saw a high of…188! That was reached only once on the first climb. The second time through ridge, which if you have ridden Patapsco, you know that ridge is a SSers nightmare reached 183. My average was 155. Now I know most of are reading this thinking who gives a crap…I do and if you are new to racing and/or training, you should too.

Training is not a instant gratification mind set, which is very difficult for me to grasp. Just stick with it and you will get there. Oh, almost forgot. Jon Rogers delivered to me the new Bontrager Evoke3 Ti saddle and had my first MB ride on it today-WOW! Initial thoughts: very comfy for a racing saddle and light. I was really impressed. Saddle arent the thing that thrill me, because you have your old stand by and thats what works. I have a new old standby.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Stoopid Pics

2009 Fisher Ferrous

32/18 gearing. 22.7 lbs. This is my favorite by far. Just feels right. Like the third bowl of porridge. Not as light as my Superfly, but makes up for it on the rougher stuff. Just upgraded to Bontrager Rhythm Pro 750mm wide bars. All my rides will soon have these as well.

2008 Fisher Ferrous

32/19 gearing. 22.9 lbs. This was my first Fisher 29er. I repainted it with the original devo blue (Krylon Rustoleum) and updated 2009 decals. Got a few paint requests when others saw how a spray paint can could look better than the original. Just takes time. Made in the USA, 2009 was not.

2009 Fisher Superfly SS

32/18 gearing. 18.8 lbs. This is just plain great. Full carbon, light, fast. By far the best Fisher graphics ever. Also has the 29er Crew "XXIX" branding on the down tube. First race resulted in 1st place, need I say more? Have raced this bike 6 times, 6 podiums.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Not feeling to great

 Eh, tonight was one of those nights that just wasnt up to par. Doing my steady power intervals was not something I was looking forward to either, but they are done and other than the last interval, it wasnt to bad. The last one, my cadence dropped from 105 to 103. Not horrible, but not great.

Tomorrow is a rest day-thank God. Taking the kids swimming at college. I also start working at my old bike shop again-Bicycle Connection Express. Little bit of a pay cut, but one can only take so much corporate gray and artificial people.

Doing a nice long mtb ride with some friends-for whatever reason-are using me for training advice on the SS. I hope they realize by my title what they are getting themselves into! I did get to try my new Evoke saddle tonight and I am liking it so far. I will have a nicer write up in about a month.

Next race is Bakers Dozen and the great thing and bad thing about this course is that it has about 200 ft of elevation per lap. Not a very nice number for monocogging. Oh well, I will have my Superfly HT by then and I just might ride it!

Back in the Saddle Again

I decided to take 3 days off since the Patapsco race. My legs needed some down time anyway. Did some tempos last night just to mix it up a bit. 2 x 20's with warm up and cool downs came out to 1:10. Legs felt about 95%, so pretty good. Tonight I will get back with my Steady Power Intervals. I feel pretty good right now. One of the tougher races of the year is out of the way. The next really big one is Bakers Dozen. I have decided to do a duo this year. I completed 11 laps and 91.5 miles last year and had 1st place, but had to bow out due to some stiffening of the neck, thats the way it goes sometimes. So some redemption is in order this year. My rep, Jon just delivered some goodies from Trek today. 29.2 team tires, 29.3 team tires, Evoke Ti saddle, socks, gloves, shirts, hats and Rhythm Pro handle bars in 750mm length and all of the goodies needed to complete my Superfly Elite HT frame! Yes, I am building it up as geared bike. I guess I will have to change the blog to "Tales of a Singlespeed Moron who bought a Geared Frame because he is a Moron."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Singlespeed Specific Workouts

Ok, I have had a few of you ask about SS specific workouts. Now I am certainly no guru about such matters, but I know what works for me, and hopefully you as well. Hills are what make or break your ride or race. You might think that it is impossible to climb some of the hills your buddies do on their whimpy granny gear, but you will in time. How? Intervals are still the primary exercise for your needs, but more leg power is needed, as well as stamina.

I really only do (1) SSSWO per week, and I mix it in with my others. Hill repeats, hill repeats and more hill repeats. This is what you will be doing -like it or not. I have one set of intervals that I do which are pretty rough, but get results. You do 2 (3x3) intervals. So basically you do 1 set with 3 repetitions @ 3 minutes each (yeah, 3 minutes is a long time brother!) and 3 minutes rest in between each rep and 8 minutes between sets. After 2 weeks, add another set or reduce the rest time. Use a gear that allows around 100 rpm's seated and 65-75 when standing, and stick with it, these are tough. Alternate sitting and standing. The kicker-go full out for the 3 minute duration. If you are doing these on a trainer, gear down so you can stand without spinning out. The key here is good, even power throughout. You dont want to do 2 intervals at a good power level and then drop off significantly on the third. Your HR will escalate as you do each interval, but again, you are concerned with POWER. You want to maintain the same power output for all 6 intervals! SEE THE BLOG ON GEARING UP FOR AFC SUGAR HILL 

You can also do the 1 x 1's; I minute full on, 1 minute easy. Do these 10-12 times and on a medium sized slope, not to steep or you wont be able to turn the pedals. Do them on the road with a road bike and 53/17-19 or some equivalent gearing. Try and keep the cadence at 50-60. These are tough, but do get results, once a week is plenty. Increase reps by one each week for 3 weeks than take a break. BIG NOTE SECTION!!! MAKE SURE YOU WARM UP PROPERLY FOR THESE OR YOU WILL DO MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD! AT LEAST 15-20 MINUTES. ALSO GET SOME NUTRITION IN YOUR BODY WHEN COMPLETE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS ASWELL, ESPECIALLY ON THE TRAINER; WHERE YOU TEND TO SWEAT A BIT MORE.

I dont use a power meter, but I find that cadence is a pretty good indicator for consistent power output. These will work your quads and thighs and this is where your power comes from on those steep climbs. These alone arent going to make you superman, but mix them in with your workouts and core strength routine and you will see results. I'm 43, and I have made some significant gains doing these. Enjoy the pain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

AFC Sugar Hill and a tough 3rd some of you (I'm sure I can count the number on one finger) know, I have implemented a new weapon to my arsenal this year. No, not a new ride nor is it any type of gear at all. No, my new weapon is...A DISCIPLINED TRAINING PROGRAM! So what you say? I agree. I have logged 1200 miles since the first of the year. Now for some (Roger-still amazes me how much he put in last month) that's not a whole lot, for me that constituted well over half of what I rode last year.

I have had a week of intervals to get me ready for 4000 ft of climbing on the SS.  I chose to ride my Ferrous with a 32/18 set up, probably should have gone with a 19 or even a 20, but whatever. I think the Superfly would have been a better choice and 5 pounds less weight, but I like my Ferrous, so that's what I rode. We went off at 1:00 and as usual fast and furious-AARRRGHH! A water bar climb awaits you right from the start. The course is full of undulating hills and quite a few of really steep, rock riddled climbs. I settled in around 4th for a bit and moved into 1st about 4 miles in. I was feeling good, but not great. I knew this was going to be tough. I started off way to quick and was starting to pay during the 2nd lap. Doug Pepelko, who is a very strong rider was on my wheel  the whole time. I knew it was a matter of time before I had to give up the spot. We must have really tore the field apart, because there was no one, I mean no one, well except Jonathan Houghton, who is another really strong rider passed me.

To be honest, I had limited supplies going into the 3rd lap. Weird thing was my lung capacity was great, like I was just cruising-but my thighs were like lead weights. More core work is needed I believe. Plus 2 "real" mountain bike rides since the beginning of the year was not helpful either. I had 1400 ft of elevation to contend with too. I was riding on pure pride at this point and lucky for me I was strong enough to finish 3rd with quite a big gap from the number 4 guy, who happened to be Dave Kelnberger from last years Crew. Last year I finished 7th in the SS class, but had a much stronger finish than this year. My Garmin crapped out half way through, so no accurate data to speak, but I finished with a 2:10, so 43:33 lap times were still pretty quick.

I didnt finish as strong as I would have liked, but was strong enough to finish 3rd in the SS class and podium for the Crew! Garmin data-borrowed my friend Chris'-who was also racing SS and just substituted my info since my Garmin crapped out after a lap and a half.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gearin' Up for Sugar Hill

Since the rains delayed my first "real"race of the season last week, this saturday is looking great. Temps to get to 70° (awesome considering the SS guys kick off at noon, so we will get the full force of the warmth!) Mt new Trek 29er Crew kit arrived today and looks fab-a-lisssssssss with a Z SNAP! Also got word that the new Superfly fframes are in for the Crew as well. Will be getting that within a few weeks. As of today, there are 24 in the SS expert class. 23.5 miles with 6000 ft total elevation. WHO RAHHH!
Training has been going very well. I feel pretty good right now. Sometimes it's really hard to tell how you "really" feel, though. I have been hitting the intervals pretty hard as of late. Last night was my first long interval session and it was pretty brutal. 3 minutes @ 176+ HR and 3 off. 2 sets of 3 x 3's. HR got to 190. A little dissapointed it didnt get higher, but I was able to maintain a pretty steady power output throughout.
Intervals are brutal, but pay off
My routine this time of year starts progressing into more intensity work and less volume. I will still get 120+ miles per week, though.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Go

This saturdays race at Patapsco has been postponed until next saturday-aarrrgh! Oh well; gives me a little more time to sneek some interval in. Superfly won't be here until mid april now. Bummed about that; was hoping to have it by Bakers Dozen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Uno Grande!

That's about the extent of my knowledge of the Spanish language. I reached the 1,000 mile mark for the year today. Thats over half the amount for all of last year (1,489 total.) This year looks to be a Grande Uno + Uno! I know that's not correct- It's Uno x Uno Grande.

I am starting to reduce the volume and increasing intensity now. Just finished up steady states. These are the more difficult intervals for me. Maintaining 162-165ish Hr for 3 sets of 12 minutes with 6 minutes rest. Just staying focused is tough for me. Also did some core strengthening today at lunch-about 30 minutes worth.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Almost Forgot

Today was the first time on the mountain bike since january 22nd. Wasnt sure if i knew how it operated after all this time. My technical skills were a little rough, but quickly came back to me-after almost endoing. 18.65 miles at Patapsco and 3500 ft of climbing. Legs felt pretty good. HR got to 193 only once, havent pushed that hard in while, probably since last year. Riding the Superfly SS with 32/18 gearing and 700mm wide bars. Started intervals this week, so legs were probably not 100%.

Rode with Auggie and Dan (also a 29er Crew Dude). Dan is pretty fast and 145lbs and 23 and single and all the time in the world to train. Stayed with him, though. eight is now at 181 lbs., so I am at race weight. Wish I were 30 pounds lighter.

Thats 145 miles for the week so far-tomorrow will be a light day for sure. Next saturday is the AFC Sugar Hill race at Patapsco, so I will take it a little easier this week with a few intervals and light riding. Finished 7th last year in a very tough field. This year they added-why?-2 more mile to the course. 23.5 total. Uh...I think it will be fun.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Now the fun begins

So...after 880 miles, it is time to do it Clint Eastwood style. You know what I'm talking about-ew-e-ew-e-ew-wah-wah-wah! Yeah, it's hard to translate music notes into words, so I will give it to you-The Good (riding the bike), The Bad (not riding the bike) and the Ugly (intervals). Today marks a new age in my training and to dominate the Singlespeed field.

In short, started my steady state intervals-3 sets of 10 minutes each at 162-165 bpm with 5 minutes rest in between, with some endurance miles, too. Now, if you have taken my simple, yet somehow intelligent advice and put in your base miles, the transition to intervals won't be as difficult. I didnt say easy, but not as painful.