Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#Cyclocross: Surviving The Holiday Abyss

The faded workout has treated me well
My Christmas list sadly begins with socks.  The other thing I’m working on in early December is how to bridge the fitness abyss of after-work darkness, St. Nick’s candy, Dorothy's ham gravy, and a marathon of New Years Eve parties between now and Cyclocross Nationals.  Then it struck me like a V8 vegetable juice palm slap upside the forehead, my modified Chris Carmichael workout.  It’s an hour long, burns nearly 800 calories and is a good general power workout.  I scribbled it down on post it note which remarkably, 3 years later, is still adhering to the side of the 1987 13-inch TV in front of my trainer set-up. 

I’m no coach, which is precisely why I have no problem copying Chris Carmichael’s workout, modifying it and then dispensing the result as my own for free.  While others charge for their training secrets or leave you wondering what kind of incredible workout they did to post quotes like this to Facebook: “contact and put that trainer on my victims list,” I have no problem telling you what has got me this season’s incredible mid-pack results and kept me off the podium.  All kidding aside, I started the season finishing in the mid 30’s and now I’m knocking on the door of a top 20.  While no one has noticed this incredible performance but me, something must be working.  Either that, or the 15 Ohio Valley Elite Cyclocrossers I think I’ve become faster than have been abducted by aliens. 

Come Nationals and Worlds time, one thing is for certain, some people will be slower than they are this weekend.  Some will be faster.  I prefer the latter.  If the thought of racing cyclocross past Sunday doesn’t make you want to cry for mama between bouts of the pukes, I think the best you can do at this point is sharpen your fitness and skills over the next 3 weeks.  Come New Year’s day, aside from rest, there’s no interval workout that’ll make you any faster.  So really, you’ve got about 3 weeks to polish that middle of the pile turd.  Chop chop.

As far as skills, I'll try to spend at least one day/week on the cross bike practicing dismounts, starts, and hill carries.  It probably wouldn't hurt to do some running in there too.  I've lived in Wisconsin in January.  I've had to dig my car out of 17 inch snowfalls.  There's no guarantees you'll be riding your bike at Nationals.  Aside from that and keeping your core solid, you still can get quicker and snappier.  While the original workout is listed below, over the years I’ve adapted the structure to specific cyclocross workouts.  Do the warm up, pick the 15 or 30 sec interval workout and be off the trainer at 60 minutes even.  I like to start at 6:30pm with the evening news and finish up with Extra-Extra!  Print it out and tape it to your TV.

6 Min Easy Warm Up
1 Min Fast Pedal 110-120 rpm
1 Min Recover
1 Min Fast Pedal 110-120 rpm
1 Min Recover

OPTION 1: CX ATTACK 15 on 15 off Interval Insert
5 minute set of 15 on 15 off.
In a hard gear, 53x14ish, simulate starting, punching it out of corners, driving up a short steep hill. 15 sec attacking as hard as you can, 15 sec no pedaling (coasting.)
5 min rest.
Repeat set 5 times.
5 minute easy pedal cool down.

OPTION 2: CX STICK IT 30 on 30 off Interval Insert
5 minute set of 30 on 30 off.
Simulate the effort you’d put in hammering straightaways between course features.  Don’t punch it at the beginning, ramp up to a 100% effort you can sustain for 30 seconds.  Recover in between efforts with a  high cadence spin. 
5 min rest.
Repeat set 5 times.
5 Minute easy pedal cool down.

OPTION 3: ROAD/HILL POWER (The Original Carmichael Workout...more or less)
Five 2 minute efforts with 2 minute fast spin recovery in between.
The two minute effort should be steady and sustained, but as hard as you can handle without loosing power for 2 minutes.  Think hammering a breakaway.
Recover with easy spin for 6 minutes between sets.
Repeat 5x2 efforts a 2nd time.
8 Minute Easy Spin Cool Down.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cycling Gear Washing Problems Solved!

Grrr...Inside Out Winter Cycling Gloves
It must be some sort of cat fish, the creature inside my washing machine that loves to pull the liner out of my winter cycling gloves.  Obviously, it likes to play but must be able to swim in murky water.  Unlike Poofy, the three-footed sock stealing cloud-like entity in the dryer, the washing machine monster only messes with my winter cycling gloves.  It knows how to undo the Velcro on the wrist and pull the liner out off all ten fingers.  It makes me want to scream or grab a spear gun.

Artist Rendering: The Gloved Washer Fish
Pictured is an artists rendering of the Gloved Washer Fish.  Its sticky facial tentacles can easily grab a heavy glove that sunk to the bottom of the washer.  Then, with its singular hand shaped Ventral fin, it reaches into the glove, guts the liner and eats the bacteria from the inside of glove.  When the washer empties, it slithers up the black hose and waits for its next prey.

The Washer Helping Hand
However, I’ve found a way to foil the Gloved Washer Fish.  I’ve invented The Washer Helping Hand™.  It’s essentially a washable mannequin hand.  Made out of a lightweight but heavy duty water resistant polymer, you insert the Washer Helping Hand™ into the glove and secure it at the wrist with the glove’s Velco.  It’s like washing your gloves with your hands still in them.  The Gloved Washer Fish can't get his freak Ventral fin inside.  The Washer Helping Hand comes in all different sizes and ethnicities.  Brilliant. 

Poofy The 3-Footed Sock Stealing Dryer Monster
But wait!  There’s more!  For only $19.99 plus S&H, we’ll throw in The Dryer Foot™.  It’s the only way to beat Poofy, the three legged sock stealing dryer monster.  Simply slide all your socks on The Dryer Foot, toss the unit in the dryer and be amazed that all of your socks have matches when the dryer buzzes.  If that’s not enough, we’ll also include The Washing Weight™, the only device known to keep the washing machine from getting thrown off balance by washing light lycra jerseys and heavy winter cycling jackets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#Thanksgiving: Getting The Bird on the Bike

Happy F'n Thanksgiving
The email from our VP read, “To help get you on your way for Thanksgiving, we’re closing the shop at 2pm on Wednesday.”  With a building full of the nerdy music weirdoes you made fun of in college, sometimes it’s hard to think of a radio station as a business, let alone a shop.  However, if you’re the creative weirdo making commercials for a 4-day Black Friday weekend on a three day work week at one of the most popular stations in town, yeah, it’s sort of like an assembly line.  Hit record, read copy, add holiday music, sprinkle with magic festive fairy dust…repeat.  The magic fairy dust is the hard part.  I was home, changed and on my bike by 3 o’clock.  My wife was out picking up “the bird.” 

In our vegan case, I’m not really sure what “the bird” is, but there are six drumsticks, …err…breasts, …hmm, …yummy looking lumpy brown things in our fridge.  They came with the Whole Foods vegan Thanksgiving dinner which also includes gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beaners and a whole apple pie.  Heat and serve.  This is our first Thanksgiving without a real turkey.  I’m not going to miss it.  I only wish Whole Foods gave us enough for leftovers.

Gardein...It's vegan for Turkey.
With temps in the 50’s and party sunny skies, I headed out to do some 30-on 30-off intervals on a hilly local route we call the Amsterdam loop.  I wasn’t about to waste a rare sunny workday afternoon in November banging out relentless intervals on a single hill.  I opted to get the work in on each of the 5 hills I’d hit on the two hour loop, recover and enjoy the descents into the Ohio River Valley.    

I was having a blast.  Traffic was light.  I knew anyone on the road was in a tizzy to get to grandma’s house, so I was being extra courteous.  I made a conscious decision not to ride up the gutter at stoplights and instead let all the cars go ahead when it changed.  I waved cars through intersections first, intent on keeping my good groove going.  On the third downhill I got my Thanksgiving bird.

A line of 4-5 cars were coming up as I was going down.  With a few twists on the blind hill, it was a double yellow.  Zip!  A black car darted out of line and hit the gas to pass headed right at me.  My fingers moved to the brakes, but seeing me, he slipped back in line just as quick.  What the hell was he thinking?  It’s a double yellow on a hill! As I passed, his bird caught my eye.  He mashed it up against the driver’s door window for the extra F-U effect.  I returned the gesture, shaking mine to match his fervor and added a smile.  Happy Thanksgiving mother effer.

So today, I give thanks for health, a wonderful wife who understands there's more time to ride if you order a pre-made dinner, blue skies, gardein and gravy, warm November afternoons and the douche bags that make it easy to write a cycling blog. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

#OVCX Lexington: Everyday I’m Sufferin’

Brilliant!  Socks and Caps to come!
I’m not high.  However, if I used your bathroom this morning, I may be more inclined to ransack your medicine cabinet looking for pain killers, eye drops and Q-tips.  It hurts to lift my arms.  I have a friend that when exhausted will joke that his skin hurts.  It’s sort of like that.  Between the numerous bike carries at the OVCX Lexington cyclocross race yesterday and pulling on my bars to dig the rear wheel into the cross-arhea mud, I feel like I did the Muscle Beach curling workout.  “I work owwwwt!”

Malissa, Terri & Gerry courtesy Sherri T.
All night my wife kept saying I had mud on my face.  “You showered didn’t you?”  I had, but the specs of dirt on my cheek were in fact coming out of my eyes.  They’d roll down my face with my tears.  I keep blinking.  I’ve been crying in one eye for the past 15 hours.  I blinked while I slept, which turned out to be a good way to see the score of the Packers game on the ESPN recap since I fell asleep with the TV on.  There are still a few gold nuggets left in my left eye.  I’m sure I’ll be panning them out for the next day or two.

Courtesy Steve B.
Just when I start to feel good about my performance yesterday, 21st, my best yet but one spot out of the money, I remember the speeding ticket I was awarded on the way down to the race.  The business like officer clocked me at 68 in a 55 on Lexington’s New Circle Road.  I guess 3 bikes on top of an SUV make a pretty good sized radar target.  It was a simple transaction.  I handed him my license and registration, he handed me a $168 ticket, court costs plus the fine. 

At the start, the official said lap times were running about 12 minutes for previous races and getting slower.  Granted I took what we called “Math for Creatives” in college, a 100 level course officially titled Elements of Math in the UW system, but I calculated with certainty we’d do 6 laps tops.  I’m still trying to figure out why the cards at the start/finish read 3 to go at the 45 minute mark.  As I mashed my way back into the hairy mud, stiff crab grass with ice cream soup mud underneath, I kept saying that can’t be right.  I assured myself I’d get the bell the next lap.  Maybe I messed up my computer out there, but I swear I was on the bike and in the mud for a good hour and twenty minutes and still on the lead lap.

Adam courtesy Lindsay R.
“Everyday I’m Sufferin’.”  I parodied the LMFAO song in my head the moment I felt the effects of the pre-race GU wear off.  I was naked inside and running on empty with 2 to go.  Uphill U-turns, rideable in early laps, became peg-leggers in the Saag Paneer mud.  I’d plant my foot at the stake and fling my bike around.  Rideable climbs disintegrated into dabs at the top which morphed into hoofing it from the bottom.  I’m not sure I used my brakes most of the race.  Like driving a river boat, you just slow the paddle wheel.  Even on the slickest steepest descents, the mud at the bottom would scrub enough speed to keep you from going into the tape. 

My Best CX Season p/b Pearl Izumi
It’s comforting, the feeling of letting go at the end of a race, first ending the pursuit and then putting our defenses down.  While I can’t put an exact time on it, I distinctly remember switching my focus from chasing my teammate Nate and turning it toward keeping the guy behind me…well, behind me.  With two turns left before the finish, I churned through the peanut butter and cat snot.  Sam Dobrozi was nearly two turns behind.  Done.  Pavement.  Nirvana.  I rode into the light.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rachel Reviews: #PEARLiZUMi Base Layers

Meet Rachel.  She's romped Sedona singletrack, cruised county roads in Summit County Colorado, and hiked in B.C.  You might run into her in the pilates and yoga studio.  She's got a corral of bikes and a closet full of gear.  Of course, there's always room for more.  She's also my wife and this is Rachel Reviews: Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Baselayers. 

A windy cold day should not be a reason to skip a bike ride and camp out on the couch watching TV.  Having the right clothing for days when the mercury drops is important and can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your ride.  With a chilly Saturday and a warmer Sunday, this past weekend in Cincinnati was perfect to test both my new Pearl Izumi base layers. 

P.R.O. Barrier LS
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier is a base layer with a built in wind barrier added to the front.  It's almost like having a light vest and a base layer all in one.  I wore this long sleeve base layer on the regular Saturday club ride out of Oakley.  With a 9am start, temps in the mid 40's and winds gusting up to 25mph, I knew I had the perfect garment for fall/winter riding.  The double layer front panel completely blocked the wind.  I was actually too hot!  The fit is very good (true to size) and the contoured cut of the wind barrier near the waist matched the cut of my bibs, no bulk.  I prefer Raglan angle cut sleeves, but I think I'll appreciate the wind-blocking material on my shoulders during the winter.

P.R.O. Transfer
Sunday afternoon was slightly warmer with temps in the mid-to-high 50's.  On the out and back along the Ohio River and around the local time trial route in Cleves, I wore the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. short sleeve Transfer base layer.  Pearl Izumi describes the material as Minerale.  I gotta say, I love it.  It's soft and wicks sweat very well.  The short sleeve base layer fits great and has the Raglan sleeves (thank you) and contrast stitching.  Both the long and short sleeve base layers have this awesome fabric, subtle branding and high quality construction. 

I highly recommend these base layers and suggest you add these to your xmas gift list.  Your mom, dad, or significant other will feel good about giving you something to keep you warm on those cold winter days.

Happy Riding!  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Degrees of Separation: #OVCX to #USGPcx to Masters Worlds 2011

You raced or watched the USGP Cyclocross Derby Cup in Louisville this weekend.  With course tape snapping in the wind, you rang the cowbell at the fly-over, heckled Georgia Gould, followed Powers lines warming up, shielded your junior kid’s eyes from the guy cheering with a nipple-taped blow up doll and, even though you can’t draw a correlation, the three gladiators seemed to fit in with the atmosphere.  You had a blast.  Now, it’s Monday, November 14th.  In two months, Cyclocross Masters Worlds unfolds on the same course.  We’ll see real rainbow stripes pulled over team jerseys and tears of joy in the winner’s eyes.  After doing my best 20/20 investigative reporting, crunching results, and talking with masters peers this weekend, I wont be surprised if those rainbow tears could be rolling down the cheek of someone we know. 

Cyclocross Masters Nationals 2010 45-49
2MarkNobleMetalmtn Cycling50:46:00
3JonnyBoldCorner Cycle51:01:00
4JamesCoatesCalifornia Giant Cycling/Califo51:17:00
5RichardMcclungLake Washington Velo/Hagens Ber51:26:00
6MikeHoganJustin'S / Titus Mountain Bike51:36:00
7ArthurO'connorTeam Big Ring-Realcyclist.Com51:56:00
9EricMartinWebcyclery Racing/Bendbroadband52:10:00

It won’t be me.  The way I figure it, I’m still 4 degrees of separation from the next 45-49 year old Masters World Champion.  I finished in 23rd place in Day 1 of the USGP 45+ Elite Masters, an eternity of 2 minutes and 47 seconds behind the beaded bling wearing 45+ winner Jonathan Card.  However, Card finished 1:12 behind a certain 3rd place Jonny Bold at Nationals last year.  45-49 year old Nationals in 2010 were won by the legendary Olympian/World MTB Champ and four time Elite Cyclocross National Champion Don Myrah.  While Myrah didn’t make the trip to Mol, Belgium for Worlds last year, Bold did.  He won bronze, nine seconds behind 2010 (1961-65) World Champion Marc Druvts.  According to Bold’s blog, the race was very close.  Sadly, Marc Druvts passed away this August.  

Cyclocross Masters Worlds 2010 Mol, Belgium 1961-65 (45-49) 
Marc Druyts (Belgium) :37:28
Dirk Mertens (Belgium)  :00:07
3 Jonny Bold (USA)         :00:09

Granted you can’t compare last year’s Jonny Bold to this year’s Jonathan Card, Fred Rose or Mike McShane.  Variables such as geography, course layout, weather, and jet lag come into play as well as the typical boring master’s issues of family, careers and who's going to snow blow the driveway when I'm gone.  44 year olds turn 45.  49 year olds blow out 50 candles.  While it’s not a divining rod of Masters Cyclcocross, it does show the general caliber of talent present locally in Ohio Valley Cyclocross OVCX and the USGP.  Take a look at the current USA cycling rankings.  You may recognize a few names.

USA Cycling Masters 45-49 Open Cyclocross Rankings as of 11/14/11

1214.80Frederick RoseBloomington, IN3055345
2216.22Jonny BoldMarstons Mills, MA11738347
3219.53Jonathan CardSylvania, OH607848
4221.85Ralf WarmuthEdison, NJ23178848
5225.46Michael McShaneLouisville, KY2383647

Card Tails Rose
In the USGP 45+ Elite Masters race on Saturday, OVCX regular, Fred Rose finished 3rd, only 7 seconds off Card’s mark.  Mike McShane only 32 seconds off Rose.  Personally, I’m thinking Card may be even faster than last year.  In lieu of having Worlds in their backyard, I think many OVCX racers have raised their game.  After talking with a few Masters racers at USGP this weekend, I heard Card deliberately started training later and put less emphasis on early September races in order to focus on Nationals and Worlds. 

For me, looking at the theoretical gaps between myself and guys like Bold, Myrah and the late Druvts, I’m just glad it doesn’t get too much faster than this.  Staying on the lead lap at Worlds would be a dream.  While it may be a few rows in back of Bold, Card, Rose, Myrah and a few Europeans getting away to tropical Louisville in January, there’s a place on the Worlds starting grid for me.  

US Gran Prix Of Cyclocross
USGP CX Derby Cup 45-54 11/12/11
1 43 CARD Jonathan TEAM CARD 6078 36:56:00
2 2 BUTLER Tim WestEndBikes/Specialized 211505 37:01:00
3 11 ROSE Frederick 30553 37:03:00
4 1 MCSHANE Michael Bob's Red Mill- p/b Focus Bikes 23836 37:35:00
5 65 MORSE Samuel Corner Cycle 25187 37:41:00
6 7 SIMON Wayne Enzo's/ Psimet 32742 37:41:00
7 6 LUCAS Keith Schellers Racing Team 209624 38:00:00
8 49 AUGUST Andy Park Ave Bike Shop 2073 38:03:00
9 5 KRAUSE Troy Monkey Wrench/Inglis 210684 38:11:00
10 57 CASPER Daniel GrandStay Hotels 214654 38:23:00
11 68 NISSEN Dave QCW 165977 38:25:00
12 4 STEPNIOWSKI Waldek lUNA 93056 38:43:00
13 14 FAGERBERG Erik Papa John's Racing Team 11159 38:53:00
14 32 TUCKER Troy Inside Ride 91206 38:59:00
15 56 TOTH Peter ONE DAY 39:04:00
16 12 MANDROLA John Papa Johns Racing Team 201258 39:13:00
17 61 POHLMANN Dirk Texas Roadhouse p/b Motorex 51532 39:22:00
18 63 PAGELL Mark Team WORC INTL 39:25:00
19 53 MCNAMEE Steve Le Scomparse Racing Team 189612 39:26:00
20 23 HUNTER Todd Garneau Customs p/b Powerbar/ W 178827 39:31:00
21 10 WELLSMAN Peter Pro City Racing INTL 39:33:00
22 15 MAY, SR John Papa John's Racing Team 195083 39:35:00
23 16 BELLANTE Joe BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing 199092 39:43:00

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

@GouldGeorgia Ur Fans R Getting Ready 4 #USGPcx Louisville Hecklefest #Heckleme

  • Dear Georgia Gould,

    The Ohio Valley fans of the Best Bike Blog EVER (read with snarky EVER), saw your tweet:

     Georgia Gould 

    In an effort to encourage more heckling I am offering a box of Luna bars to the best heckle I hear during my race. Ok?  

    While, being from the Ohio River Valley, most of them prefer gifts of bacon and chewing tobacco, they are remarkably stoked for a box of Luna Bars.  We told them Luna Bars are made with Bourbon.  In preparation for this weekend's USGP cyclocross races in Louisville and in an effort to get the creative heckle juices flowing, we asked for preliminary heckles on our Facebook page.

    Maybe it'll give you added incentive to not by a sissy about your pretty hair, put on the rain jacket and ride outside instead of hitting the trainer.  Maybe you'll do five extra practice starts even if your little biker arms hurt.  Or maybe you'll back away from the delicious Moon Pie at the Rabbit Hash General Store and pick up the carrots and humus instead.  

    Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry, some might make you pee your chamios.  You said you weren't picky and we're certain pro's have an extra kit.  These pre-race heckles are offered up with the love and affection of your fans who routinely write your name on their chests.  But, rest assured, if all else fails and you end up a professional chef, we will be there at the five start restaurant to heckle your cooking too.

    Hugs & Cowbells,

    Joe and Fans of The Best Bike Blog EVER!

    Let the heckles begin:

  • David I'm 300 lbs and can run this hill faster than you!
    20 hours ago · 

  • J.d. "You're like a Ben Folds song: Slow and Sad!"
    20 hours ago ·  ·  1

  • Mark ‎"You're about to catch some fast people behind you"
    19 hours ago ·  ·  2

  • Corey ‎"Even the beast would be disappointed with 6th place."
    19 hours ago · 

  • The Best Bike Blog Ever You're so slow Chariots of Fire plays when you ride!
    18 hours ago · 

  • Christine I can do that hill faster and I am a cat 4.
    18 hours ago · 

  • JerrYou're givin' away points like candy on Halloween night.
    18 hours ago ·  ·  1

  • Lance  I drove two hours to watch you lose.
    18 hours ago ·  ·  2

  • The Best Bike Blog Ever You're slower than my Kentucky drawl!
    18 hours ago · 

  • Scott We age whiskey faster than you.  You should have started yesterday.  Should we come back tomorrow and tear down the course.  Are you trying to get sponsored by Nyquil.  

  • David Maybe you should cut back on the Luna Bars.
    17 hours ago · 

  • Kate Ride faster or I will lock you in a room with Scott (above)
    17 hours ago ·  ·  6

  • Lance Grandma was slow too, but she was 90 years old.
    15 hours ago · 

  • Corey  Oh good, you aren't lost. Been a while since we saw you, we were worried.
    14 hours ago ·  ·  1

  • Jerry Quit making this look so hard!
    13 hours ago ·  ·  1

  • Scott It's ok, you can still 'like' the podium on Facebook.
    12 hours ago · 

  • Corey This might add some fuel to the fire - Georgia is officially the Drop of the Week.
    North American Cyclocross Rankings are here! Week number eight, Who's #1?! This ...See More
    11 hours ago ·  ·  1 · 

  • Nick Look out, Georgia, that kid from Glee in the wheelchair is coming up on your left.

Even Georgia Gould Celebrates Movember!