Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Getting ready for The Ride Across Minnesota, 5 days, 300 miles, lots of hills this year. It takes place at the end of this month so this week is my last week of intense training: I plan to put in about 216 miles at race pace and see what I can do. On the last two intense training weeks (which took place 5 weeks ago and 3 weeks ago, respectively) I completed roughly 100 miles at an average speed of 18.4 mph and roughly 150 miles at an average speed of 18.0 mph.
Since I've been riding at this kind of pace for the majority of the year, I expected to ride at a similar pace this week as well but it hasn't turned out that way. I have been very sleepy and probably haven't fueled well enough, but whatever the case I just can't push at the same pace I've been pushing all year. This is a bit frustrating because I've worked so hard to produce speed right now rather than earlier in the year, but it is what it is.
Today's ride was about 40 miles. For 8 of those miles I had a 5-10 mph cross wind, for 20 I had a 5-10 mph head wind, and for 12 I had a tail wind. I came in to the 28 mile rest stop at 16.5 mph and then picked up 0.7 over the next 12 miles for an overall average speed of 17.28. This means that over those last 12 miles I averaged somewhere around 20 mph with a 5-10 mph wind at my back. That level of wind certainly helps but it's not massive which means I probably didn't ride as bad as I felt I did today, however, I know I wasn't pushing with the same vigor and endurance as earlier in the year but again it just is what it is.
I want to close this blog by reflecting for a moment on why I've been unable to produce higher average speeds over the last two days. I see five reasons.
1. Lack of Rest: due to life circumstances, I started this week out being very tired. It's hard to do anything when you're sleepy and this is definitely affecting my performance on the bike. I'm trying to rest as well as I can during this week but it's hard to rest on a week like this given the fact that I do have a life--and a job--outside of cycling.
2. Nutrition: I did try to eat as well I could over the last couple of weeks, but I didn't do a good job of filling up my glycogen stores to the max and I think I've been running out of internal fuel. I've also struggled to find the right balance of eating and drinking on the bike when I'm riding this fast for this long and it's been hard to figure out. I don't think I'm drinking enough but the problem is that my mouth and stomach are getting quite tired of the amount of sugar I need to stay fueled. So it's a catch-22--I need to replenish my glycogen fuels while I'm riding but my body is simultaneously tiring of the sugar.
3. Training: I may have inadvertently over-trained or I may have peaked too early in the season. Although I've taken it very easy over the last two weeks, it could be that training so hard for so long has taken its toll. On the other hand, since cycling season really took off I've cut out all cross training and I've wondered if I've actually lost a bit of my overall physical fitness. Honestly, I don't know but I'm sure that my training regimen is somehow playing a part in all this.
4. The Winds: On yesterday's route I had to deal with 45 miles of true cross winds which means that sometimes they turn toward your face, sometimes toward your butt, but almost always serve to hinder you to some degree. I also had 6 miles of head winds and 6 miles of tail winds and bottom line, that's a lot of wind to have to deal with. I still came in at 17.5 mph yesterday which is not that bad. Then on today's route I had to deal with 8 miles of cross winds, 20 miles of head winds, and 12 miles of tail winds. It was not brutal, to be sure, but it was steady. Add to this the rolling course I rode today and it probably makes some sense that my time would be suppressed.
5. Heat: For us Minnesota people it's been pretty hot this week. Yesterday it was not very humid but it was about 85 degrees while I was riding (it ended up getting over 90 by the end of the day). Today it was closer to 80 degrees but it was quite humid. I've been training in 65-75 degree weather all year and so this is actually a bit of a shock to the system. This probably has implication for fueling on the bike as well which is, in part, why I'm struggling to find the right balance when that hasn't been a problem all year.
Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do another 40 miles on a rolling course. It's supposed to be about 70 degrees while I'm riding with a 5 mph NNW wind--not much but as it's been the last two days, this is the worst possible wind direction for the particular course I'm riding. Oh well, par for the course this week! The humidity is slated to be a little over 50% which isn't bad at all. So given all that, I'm going to try to fuel and sleep as well as I can tonight and hope to come in around 18.0. Last time I rode this course I came in at 18.6 but I don't think I have that in me right now. We'll see.
Wow, this turned out to be a very long blog! Thanks for reading, if anyone did! Hope you have a great day.
Monday, July 04, 2011
This is the last week of intense training for The Ride Across Minnesota (TRAM) which takes place in three weeks (July 25-29). My goal for this week of training and the TRAM is to come in at an average speed of 18.0 mph or higher.
It was very beautiful outside today, though it was a bit warm. The wind was coming from the south at 5-10 mph which meant that I had 6 miles of headwinds, 6 miles of tailwinds, and 45 miles of cross winds. I came in at an average speed of 17.5 mph which was disappointing but understandable given these winds.
Another reason I was unable to ride faster today is that the neighbors were blowing off fireworks until midnight last night--huge ones--and thus I only slept about 5 or 6 hours which isn't enough for me. I was very tired on the bike today and just couldnít push very hard for very long. Iím disappointed to already be down 0.5 for the week, and I likely will not be able to overcome the deficit, but there was really nothing more I could do. I gave all I had and fell short. However, I still had a great day on the bike and I do feel very satisfied and thankful to God.
There is one good bit of news. I donít know if it was the course or the wind or both, but going out I averaged only 16.8 mph which means that I averaged 18.2 mph on the ways back. This is great given that I had cross winds most of the way and a head wind for 1.5 miles.
All in all, I am satisfied with my ride today and hope that I can somehow find the strength to post some higher average speeds and reach my goal of 18.0 mph. We shall see. It all begins with a great night's sleep which I hope I can get tonight.
Monday, July 04, 2011
Well, my pic for the Team Time Trial at the Tour de France didn't pan out. One of their nine riders feel right at the beginning of the race and that put them out of rhythm. They never recovered and came in at 5 seconds back. Garmin Cervelo on the other hand kicked butt! They were awesome, so congrats to them!
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Three weeks. Over 2,000 miles. Twenty-two teams of nine riders each. Six ways to win something. Here are my predictions:
Yellow Jersey (overall winner): Alberto Contador (Team: Saxo Bank Sungard) though I'm pulling for Andy Schleck (Team: Leopard Trek).
Green Jersey (best sprinter): Thor Hushovd (Team: Garmin-Cervelo)
Polka Dot Jersey (king of the mountains): Contador or Schleck thanks to the new rules.
White Jersey (best young rider, 25 or younger): Robert Gessink (Team: Rabobank).
Best Team: Leopard Trek
Stage Winners: Each day of racing is called a stage and one rider wins each stage. Since there are 21 stages I will not make lots of predictions here but I will say that I expect Philippe Gilbert to win Stage 1, HTC High Road to win the Stage 2 Team Time Trial, Contador or Schleck to win the majority of the mountain stages, Mark Cavendish (the fastest man in the world at the moment) to win at least 5 of the sprint stages, and Fabian Cancellara to win the Stage 20 Individual Time Trial.
I also have high hopes for the following Americans to have a great Tour: George Hincape, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Tyler Farar, and Christian Vande Velde. George Hincape, Lance Armstrong's most reliable and loyal right hand man, has now tied the record for participations in the Tour at 16--truly amazing! He's not a threat to win anything but he's one of the most respected riders in the peleton and without a doubt the most honorable American.Chris Horner, though he's getting old (pushing 40), has the best chance for a top 5 overall finish and perhaps even top 3.
Barring a crash or some type of unexpected difficulty, this year's Tour is a two-man race. The drama is this: who will be first and second? Contador topped Schleck by only 38 seconds last year and given that he raced in, and won, the Tour of Italy just several weeks ago, he may not have what it takes to grab that first spot again. The secondary drama is this: who will finish third. There are probably 5 riders who could take that final podium position and it'll be fun to see who asserts himself and takes it. I'm pulling for the old guys, Chris Horner of Team Radio Shack or Cadel Evans of Team BMC.
Le Tour--there's no sporting event quite like it in the world and I'm so glad the 2011 edition has begun!
Friday, July 01, 2011
For us northerners up here in Minnesota, it is a scorcher! About 94 degrees and very humid--ugh! I went for a bike ride today for good reasons, but I must admit that my core temperature has not been that high in a long time and I didn't like it very much. It's just too hot to ride at full speed but I did anyway.
It was worth it. I got my miles in and now I take two days off the bike in preparation for my final week of intense preparation for the The Ride Across Minnesota. So the plan for next week is to do five 40-mile rides at race pace at an average speed of 18.0 mph or more. I'm hoping for 18.5, but I'll take 18.0!
Hope you all are having a good day, and if you're in Minnesota, stay cool!
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