Saturday, April 30, 2011
It was very windy yesterday in the Twin Cities, 20-25 mph from the SE. Knowing that resistance builds strength and character, I decided to take a 17.3 mile ride, the first half of which was straight into the wind, the second half of which was with the wind--just the way I like it, get the hard work over and then fly home!
This course is very hilly so my personal best was an average of 18.2 mph and I wanted to beat that yesterday. I doubted that I could do it with conditions like that but I decided to try anyway. So I thought about my strategy for riding into the wind and came up with a simple but very helpful statement:
Into the wind, keep the cadence high and the body low. I said it to myself 100 times yesterday: cadence high, body low.
By maintaining a cadence of 95-100 and staying in the drops as much as possible, I was able to average 15.9 mph into that wind which is very good for me. In previous years I would have been closer to 14.5. And then I turned around, felt the wind at my back, hit the gas, and picked up 2.4 mph for a final average speed of 18.3--yes, I beat my record!
And several times I hit speeds of 30-37 mph on relatively flat ground--the wind was blowing that hard and I was working that hard! Oh what fun.
Anyhow, beating the record was good, coming up with a new saying for riding into the wind was better: cadence high, body low.
Hope you have a great day.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
After completing the "CP25K" program I decided to cycle through it again, this time to work on speed. But every time I tried adding intervals to my jogs I felt like I was going to die! I would complete one, usually, and then just have to coast in the rest of the way.
But yesterday I was able to complete six intervals, the last of which I did at a much higher pace than normal. I didn't exactly sprint but I ran quite a bit faster than I normally do. Oh, I can't tell you how good that felt.
The reason I was able to do this time, I think, is that I only slightly increased my speed for the intervals rather than bursting ahead. I figure that I should master small things first and then move on to big things later. I can see that this philosophy is going to work and I'm very excited about it!
So I went home and put together a plan for completing a 5K at 6.0 or so mph, that is, in sub-30 minutes. It will take me 6-8 weeks but I'll do it. After I broken the 30 min barrier I will probably focus on speed and technique for a while longer and then go for a 10k and who knows what. I figure that, like cycling, I should develop speed and technique first and then distance later.
Oh, I'm so pumped! And what's more, my first official 5K takes place Saturday. Hopefully I'll be able to kill it!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Belgian cyclist Philippe Gilbert has just completed what is called the "Ardennes Hat Trick" or "The Ardennes Grand Slam" which means that he won three of the European Spring Classic bike races in a space of only eight days. He first took the Amstel Gold Race on April 17, followed by the Fleche Wallone Race on April 20, followed by the oldest and probably most famous of the Classics, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on April 24.
Just to give you an idea of how great a feat this is, the Amstel Gold race was 260.4 kilometers this year, or 161.8 miles. The Fleche Wallone was 201 kilometers or 124.9 miles and the Liege was 255.5 kilometers or 158.7 miles. And not only did Gilbert have to cover these distances at speeds most mortals cannot imagine producing on a bike, he had to overpower the best cyclists in the world at the end of each race to take home the prize. I was particularly impressed with his final effort at the Amstel Race because he led the pack for miles and miles, and still won the race. That is rare. Usually the guy in front tanks and one of those behind him wins.
I suppose this is why he's only the second man in European cycling history to accomplish this feat. The last one ended up testing positive for drugs sometime later, hopefully Gilbert's character is as strong as his recent performances.
Now, as a lover of Jesus Christ this inspires me for at least two reasons. First, I'm absolutely amazed at the God who can create beings who think of things like cycling, who have the ability to set goals and train and achieve seemingly unachievable things, and who have capacities like joy which give a fullness of expression and sense of completion to such feats. Just think of humankind's best efforts at creating robots. They're a total joke compared to just one human being. Take some time and think about all the stuff people do that you take for granted and gasp at the creative capacity of God! He's really amazing. I mean really amazing.
Second, when I think about how much focus and dedication it takes to achieve something like this, I think of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
So congratulations, Phillipe Gilbert, on an historic feat. Glory and praise to you, God Almighty, for your unimaginable creative capacities and all the grace that's implied in a feat like this. And wake up, my slumbering soul, run as though you may obtain the prize. Exercise self-control, discipline your body, be inspired by earthly things to pursue the wreath that is imperishable.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Over the last several months I have been working hard on several elements of my fitness and cycling designed to increase my normal average speed on the bike to 18.0 or above. Yesterday, though it was supposed to be my day off, the weather was so nice that I decided to go for a ride in which I placed two of crucial aspects of cycling together: strength and cadence.
Each week I have been doing a number of exercises to help me develop leg strength and also develop a higher normative cadence. Both sets of exercises have been going pretty well, my leg strength is greater than normal at this time of year and a cadence of 100 or so has become very comfortable for me.
So yesterday I put these things together and took a 22.2 mile ride on an out and back course with rolling hills. After a 10 minute warm up, I put the chain into the big ring and spun at a minimum of 90 rpm for 3 minutes and then recovered for two. I repeated this 9 times for a total of 10 reps.
Now, on the way out the 15 mph wind was at my back so that I averaged 21.8 mph for the first half of the ride. But then I made the turn and rode back into that wind--which I'm normally not very good at--fully expecting to lose about 4.0 average and end up at a total average speed of 18.0 mph. However, to my surprise I averaged 16.6 into the wind for a total average speed of 19.2 mph--a personal best on this route by 0.7 of a mph! That's huge. And my previous record was set in September, near the end of my cycling year while this was set in April near the beginning.
Wow. I kind of have that "did that just happen" feeling, but as I look back I know that it's the fruit of (a) a clear plan, (b) consistency, (c) hard work, and (d) grace from the Lord.
I mention that last piece because this year I decided to let go of caffeine. In previous years I used it to help me go faster on the bike and to some extent it did, but it also had other effects on me that weren't so pleasant like mood and energy swings. So I let go of the hope of going fast on my bike, did what I knew the Lord would have me do, and what do you know--he poured his grace upon me and now I'm going faster than ever!
Anyhow, thanks for reading and hope you have a great rest of the day!
Monday, April 25, 2011
Last week I shared that I had retooled my weekly plan for the next seven weeks, now six weeks, and so I think I'll use Mondays to blog about how things went the previous week. I'm a pastor and take Mondays off so this is a good day for me to do this. So here's how this week looked:
MONDAY: DAY OFF
TUESDAY: STRENGTH RIDE ON THE BIKE, UPPER BODY IN THE GYM
The bike ride went well, although it was very windy and cold. However, I didn't go to the gym because it's Easter week and I was very busy.
WEDNESDAY: 5K JOG
Had a good jog, set a PB but I'm so pokey out there. I'm jogging at about 11:00 min p/mile and given the fact that I can go fairly fast on my bike it's hard for me to go so slow when I'm jogging. But alas, this is the first time in my life I've jogged and enjoyed it so I suppose I should celebrate small victories and know that speed will come when it comes.
THURSDAY: CADENCE WORKOUT ON THE BIKE, CORE IN THE GYM
The ride went very well, one of my favorite cadence workouts, and my core workout also went very well. I haven't worked that hard on my core in a while and it really felt good.
FRIDAY: SPEED ENDURANCE OR RECOVERY RIDE ON THE BIKE
This ride also went very well, I finished over 18 mph and simply felt high when I was done.
SATURDAY: JOG 5 K, FULL BODY IN THE GYM
Because it's Easter week and we had services on Thursday night, Friday night, and then also Sunday I had no time this day to workout at all. So no jog, no gym, didn't even get a chance to walk.
SUNDAY: SPEED ENDURANCE OR RECOVERY RIDE ON THE BIKE
This was an amazing ride. I set a personal best on a 22.2 mile course, an average of 18.5 mph. And the thing that probably encouraged me the most is that I wasn't trying to set a PB until the last few miles when I realized I was going to do that one way or the other. Further, because I wasn't trying to do that, there were many miles on the course where I was not pushing hard but just setting a nice pace which means that my training plan is working and I am reaching my goal of 18+ mph average being the new normal!
It feels so good to reap the fruit of so much hard work over the last seven months. I hope to make this week even better! Hope you have a great day, and a great week!
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