Saturday, May 31, 2008

... and your little doggy too!

Weather-wise we had an interesting Saturday (5/31). The predictions were for sever thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rain around noon. While watching the news the night before they showed the radar models for the tri-state (NY-NJ-PA) area and the area I was riding in was going to have the most severe weather. The kind that could spawn tornadoes. So I decided to err on the side of safety and cut the ride back to a Metric (Cranbury - Griggstown - Allentown). This was actually Sandy's and Mark's idea and this turn out to be a good idea. We managed to get back just before noon and while Mark and I did our cool down ride we got rained on. While driving home it came down heavy. When I finally got home I took at look at the weather service and found this:

 Forecast for Trenton, NJ 1114 am EDT Sat may 31 2008 ...Tornado Watch 402 in effect until 5 PM EDT this afternoon... .This afternoon...Mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall...large hail...frequent lightning and damaging winds this afternoon. Highs in the lower 80s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80 percent. 

I'd say that pretty much sums up the day. While the winds were strong they really didn't give us too much trouble.

Now onto our training. Today was a good day. I've lowered my seat about a millimeter or two and my left leg feels okay. I did push the pace today which Sandy wasn't too happy with. Sorry Sandy, I promise that on the Longest Day we won't keep that pace all day long. We ended up with a low 18.2 mph avg. pace. That's pretty good but not a pace we can keep for the entire Longest Day (we're expecting 17 - 17.5 mph avg). Over all I'm pleased with my progress and tomorrow will give me a clear indication about the condition of my legs. Tomorrow Mark and I will be doing a Century out of the Manasquan reservoir. It's a derivative of my BBC ride (which I'll layout later). Starting that ride out of Cranbury would mean we finish with a 35 mile head wind (we return West and the wind is out of the West). I'll check that so that we don't have to do that but instead end up with a 25 mile tail wind to finish. Hopefully I'll feel just as good tomorrow. If I feel good then I know I'm ready for the Longest Day. At the moment I'm very confident that I won't have any problems on the Longest Day (6/14 - 208 miles, Port Jervis, NY to Cape May Lighthouse, NJ).

Monday, May 26, 2008

That didn't go well!

I decide that Saturday's (5/24) ride would be this:

We had Ed (a fast Tri, training for the Longest Day- LD), Sandy, Mark, Gina and myself. Sandy, Mark and I are on the same LD team so we needed to do some pace line drills. Thos, another member of our team, is up in Massachusetts doing solo training. Gina, well I'll comment on her later (she kicked butt and then some). Well this ride didn't go as well as I'd like. The wind was 16 mph and out of the NNW. This meant that any ride south was guaranteed about 40 miles of head wind on the way home (hmm and I knew this before hand). I didn't want to do a ride out to the shore (on Memorial Day Weekend, dangerously bad idea!) and I needed to practice pace lines so riding out to the hills was not an option.

I decided to attempt to redo the ride through Lebanon State Forest (Mt. Misery) where I managed to get lost the previous time (last month). This time we made out much better, we found the correct unmarked road. The roads through the Forest are not maintained and there were quite a few huge potholes (lack of road) but over all the scenery was spectacular. Ed noted that this was much like a ride he did through Spain. That sounds like a ride I'd like ! to do.

For the first 60 or so miles I let Ed dictate the pace (18.5+ mph) as he is much faster (more than a full mph) than the rest. That was my first big mistake. My second was pushing the big ring and sprinting early in the ride. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Well after we stopped at Nixon's, in Tabernacle (mile 67), I paid for it dearly. My legs stiffened up pretty good after the lunch stop, the head wind made every climb (even small ones) very painful and I lost any strength in my left leg while climbing the NJ TP (Rt I95) over pass outside Hightstown. In short I did a very bad thing! The last 40 miles I was dragged home by my friend Mark who was tired from playing catchup to the pace I let Ed keep (bad ride leader!). Somehow Mark finished with 17.4 mph and I managed 18.0 (there is some doubt about my computer at this moment but the distance was correct within .5% of the mileage, hmm).

But all was lost on this ride. We did a wonderful pace line from Chatsworth to Nixon's Deli in Tabernacle. I wouldn't recommend it for your local club fast pace line but it is enough to make the ride easier. Ed has caught on to doing the pace line though we did have to reel him in a few times as he tends to rocket off the front. The pace line enabled us to breeze through the 10 mile stretch and didn't drain us mentally. Too bad Dave (another Tri in training for the Longest Day) was ill that very day. That was something he needed to learn. Well he has one more weekend of training to get in. As the last ride is going to be Sandy Hook and the pace will be dropped. It's more of an active rest ride.

Now on to Gina! Mark and I call her the queen of our ride and she kept here crown with dignity on this ride. Gina goes to the gym, works with weights, does spin classes, takes care of her two year old son Luke, works full time and gets in a little riding from time to time. She also said that she did a Metric in the area where she lives (the hills of Morris County) and that she maintained 16.6 mph. She to! ld us la st week that she'd be able to join us on this weekend's ride and I told her that if she needed to she could hang off the back drafting. I figured that she hadn't done a century in a while and that various aches, pains and sores would slow her down a bit but I had no doubt she'd be able to keep up. Oh boy was I ever wrong! She stayed up with Ed for most of the ride and finished with Ed's faster group (Mark and I were the slower). Now I think that Sandy has talked Gina into doing, at least, the Century. Gina wants to do the full Double Century. After what I saw on Saturday's ride and knowing Gina I have no doubt that she can do it!

And as for me, well I know have doubts. This is the third week in a row where I had leg trouble. It seems to pick up around mile 80. Mile 80 is not good enough to finish the Longest Day. I know it's not a problem with diet or cramping. What I am going to do is to lower my seat as I raised it up a bit at the beginning of the month. I'm also going to drop the pace on next weeks double century and I'm going to take it easy over the next three weeks (active rest, no really I'll take it easy). Ed and Dave will not be kicking the pace up this time as I've got to figure out how to at least survive the Longest Day ride. The thought of DNF is extremely offensive to me! I'm also going to check my cleats. They're Look Red cleats with float but I think I may need to position them so that my foot doesn't float into the rear stays so much. Right not they have a lot of float but I do find that they work very well. So that's my plan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wow, what a ride!

Yesterday (Sat., May 17th 2008) I had planned for a ride down to Tuckerton, NJ from Cranbury, NJ (129 - 131 miles). But the weather service was predicting strong (18 mph) head winds from the west. This was problematic for us as that ride has a 30 mile section was east to west. That ruled that route out. So instead I decided to do the Griggstown/Tabernacle ride (121 miles). This only had a ten mile section between Chatsworth and Tabernacle that is east to west. This was a much better choice.

The ride started out cool at 51F and the roads were wet from rain the night before. After about 40 miles into the ride my legs were feeling comfortable and I was now able to keep up with Ed better (Ed's much faster than I am). As we rode it warmed up nicely and by the time we reached Allentown, NJ I had to get rid of the wind vest and wool sweater. I was down to a long sleeve jersey and shorts. It turned out to be a good choice as I was comfortable for the rest of the ride. After Allentown we road to Browns Mills and we did a good job of riding through Ft Dix. At Browns Mill we stopped so I could fill up my Camelbak. After Browns Mills it was Four Mile Road. On Four Mile Rd. things got a little weird. The wind is supposed to be out of the west but it felt like a headwind. It was actually a cross wind as we could see dust clouds being blown across the road. It turns out that this dust was pollen and not fine sand as I thought it was. We found out when we got to the Ranger's station and found that we were covered in yellow/green pollen. At this point I felt is would be a good idea to wash up a bit. This made me feel better. So we're back on the road and riding towards Chatsworth. Once at Chatsworth we made the right towards Tabernacle. We get exactly what we expected, a nasty 18 mph head wind. Ed and I took turns at the front. When we finished that 10 mile section we were extremely tired. Ed noted that if it had been a a mile or two longer his spirit would have been broken (I agree, that wind was nasty). We really looked forward to Lunch at Nixon's Deli (mile 80). When we arrived we met two young ladies who are also doing the Longest Day. They were out of Forked River and doing 100. They also had just finished the same section as we did. So we sat and talked for a while and eventually Ed and I decided it was time to get lunch. The ladies eventually left, we wished them well, and we ate our sandwiches. Ed noted that we managed to complete this much of the ride at 18.3 mph even with that nasty section, I'm impressed. Ed and I agree to push our luck and keep the pace. So we rode the last 40 miles at that pace. When we finish we were dead tired but thrilled with a completed 121 mile ride at 18.3 mph.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eating tips for Long rides

First I hope that the folks training for the CJBC's Longest Day have some mileage under there legs. There are only 30 days until the big ride (June 14th). A number of folks are report getting in about 200 mile weeks. That seems to be right on target for the big ride. I'm currently up to 230 miles/week but I'm a little ahead of schedule. I'm pretty sure that I have more than 1500 miles on my legs for the year so far (I haven't really kept a running total). I've already done a back to back 100/50 mile weekend and my legs seem to be fine so far.

A few folks at the last Longest Day meeting were asking about what to eat on the Longest Day. The first thing you need to know (my opinion and I'm not a doctor) is that on a 208 mile ride you will not be able to eat enough food. If you estimate that a near 200 lb rider, riding at around 15.5 mph will burn something like 700+ calories an hour (these are very 'loosey-goosey' numbers). That same rider will be riding for around 13.5 hours and end up burning around 10,000 calories for the day. That's like burning around 2+lbs of fat off your body in one day which would not be a good thing. This is not a day to worry about staying on your weight loss diet, so eat! I'd venture a guess that most cyclists would normally eat around 2500 calories in a single day. So to keep up you'll need to eat about 4 times as much food for the day. I doubt your body will have an easy time keeping up with the digestion needs. This is why it's important to experiment with food on your training rides. To stay even close you need to eat while you ride. So find out what you can tolerate and what you can't tolerate while doing your training rides.

I've discovered that on normal Centuries and Double Metrics (I do these all the time) I can drink my Lemon-Lime Gatorade mixed to about 50% powder/water (I prefer the mix). I can eat pretty much anything but no large quanti! ties. If too much food sits in my stomach for long periods of hard effort I tend to get an upset stomach which will ruin the entire ride. On a Double Century I've found that I can't drink the same drink all day long. I need different flavors and I like to have small amounts of soda at the rest stops (gives a different texture also). And don't forget that sometimes regular water is exactly what you need but don't drink it exclusively as it doesn't replace the lost electrolytes. Oh one last thing, a cyclist (thanks Ed) told me that he find bibs to cause less stomach problems than short because the elastic waist band on shorts restricts your stomach. I haven't tried a bib but this sounds like a good idea.

As for food, I've found that normal mix of gorp (mixed nuts, chocolate candy and dried fruits), bananas, PBnJ, gels and various cycling bars also work well. Again, I want real food during the ride so at lunch I'll order a mustard sub (I have some other things like Turkey, Swiss, Lettuce and Tomatoes with my Mustard) and eat part of it at one stop and finish it off over several stops. Various candy, pastries and cakes may work well for you as well. I enjoy rice/marshmallow bars as it's solid food, plenty of sugar and it tastes good. One thing I really recommend you avoid is heavy foods that may contain heavy creams or grease. Your digestive system may not handle these well on such long rides.

Now here's one thing I haven't heard asked about: Caffeine and these new 'energy' products. If you plan to use caffeinated gels I'd recommend you save them for the lower half of the ride. If you normally have a coffee or tea in the morning continue to do so but during the ride don't go nuts with caffeinated products. I've found that by saving them for the lower half (after Chatsworth or May's Landing) that I get a pick-me-up during the mental doldrums of the Pine Barrens. Use caffeine too much during the day and your body will just get used to it. As for these! new 'wo nder' drinks that only have 4 calories but work for '5 hours', I am more than sceptically about them. Where are they pulling this energy from? I've tried Red Bull but it has little boosting affect on me.

Oh one last thing, Ice Cream and Dairy products. Some cyclists can not handle dairy on long rides (I can). It gives them flatulence (gas, the winds, etc). My friend Mark and myself have found that Ice Cream works well for us on long rides so we'll be using it.

Longest Day Training

This past weekend was cloudy and a bit chilly but better than the previous weekend. The previous weekend was the CJBC's Farmlands ride. I did the Century (103 miles). I just couldn't seem to get my legs to spin. I just wasn't comfortable. So I rode to a 16.5 mph avg. Three weeks previous it was in the low 80's, I did a century and road the a 17+ mph avg. This last weekend was much better, my avg 17.3 mph for 105 miles. I did manage to strain a muscle and I had spin with my right leg to get up over a small steep hill in the back of Monroe. I then rode Sunday, the leg was still mildly sore but working quite well. So it looks like it's not serious damage.

This weekend is going to be an interesting ride. It's my ride down to Tuckerton (down the shore :-). It's a 129 - 131 mile ride. I thought the mileage would have scared off most riders because I listed it as 120 - 140 miles. I had two riders two weeks before the ride. I usually have to wait until the night before to find out how many riders I'll have on my Saturday ride. My usual riders will be riding the Montauk Century on Sunday so they won't be riding with me. The two gentlemen I'll have are tri-athletes. This will interesting as I try to teach them to work together (minor pace lines). They're used to riding alone and no pace lines. I think this will be difficult in the Pine Barrens. One of the two had suggested that they'd just put on their IPOD ear buds but I warned them that this is dangerous. At least I don't have to worry about dragging them around as they are at least a full mph faster than me. The next week will be another 120 or so.