A Return to the Wild

 

My post-race "I can't believe how hard that was" look.

Boyne Mountain Challenge 2012

 

Generally speaking, cyclists enjoy being outside. That’s probably what drew them to riding in the first place (outside of possibly a necessity for transportation). But riding in the basement all winter on a trainer can make me forget the joy of riding. And then, all it takes is a bright sunny weekend to rejuvenate my enthusiasm and determination. It probably doesn’t hurt that my first race of the season, The Barry-Roubaix, is now less than a month away.

With temperatures hovering right around freezing during mid-day both Saturday and Sunday, I took advantage of the re-appearing bike paths and my wife’s generous suggestion that I go for a ride. Between Saturday’s and Sunday’s rides, I put in 4 ½ hours (about an hour of that was on the trainer last night making sure I got a good jump on the week). You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face during either ride (even when I stuck my foot in my wheel and ended up on the bike path head first…I literally laughed), and you couldn’t dampen my mood all day today.

I was particularly lost in the day while riding through a section of the bike path that meanders through the pines. It’s a feeling like no other, to me. It’s a feeling I believe humans are meant to feel. Retreating from the concrete jungle’s we’ve created for ourselves to ‘live’ in is very rejuvenating to me. No….I didn’t hug any trees while I was out riding or happen across some ‘funny stuff’. I mean it, though, interacting with nature is therapeutic.

Anyway, I’m ramping up my training this week. We have some snow in the forecast (the system has not been given a name, yet, which is a major annoyance I’ll reserve for some other time). If it’s on the lower end of th

e forecasted range of accumulation, I’m planning on getting outside Wednesday night for a while again. Saturday I’m riding in a Livestrong Foundation fundraiser for a couple of hours, so at the end of it, I’ll have around 9 hours in this week. I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden 9 hours in one week, so this will be a good test of my current state of endurance. I hope your week is well and we’ll catch you soon.

 

TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 24, 2013
Total Completed ?
Strength Program:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
12 2 minutes highest gear – sitting
14 2 minutes down a gear
16 2 minutes down a gear
18 2 minutes down a gear
22 4 minutes down a gear
24 2 minutes up a gear
26 2 minutes up a gear
28 2 minutes up a gear
30 2 minutes highest gear – sitting
40 10 minute rest
42 2 minutes highest gear – sitting
44 2 minutes down a gear
46 2 minutes down a gear
48 2 minutes down a gear
52 4 minutes down a gear
54 2 minutes up a gear
56 2 minutes up a gear
58 2 minutes up a gear
60 2 minutes highest gear – sitting
70 10 minute cool down – 30% 70 Sunday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Fun Ride:
Lakeshore Loop in the snow 110 Sunday
Recovery Ride:
Easy spin 60 Monday
Sprint Intervals:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
15 second on – 100%
20 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
25 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
35 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
40 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
50 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
55 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
65 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
70 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
80 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
85 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
95 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
105 10 minute cool down – 40% 105 Tuesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 90 minutes 90 Wednesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Ultimate Cycling Challenge:
Ridgepoint – Pick a Strategy 120 Saturday
TOTAL 9.3

 

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A Michigan Mountain Biking Test

Don't Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

Don’t Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

This is what happens when you try to knock snow off your foot by taping it on your front fork while riding. You can very easily miss the fork and stick it in the front wheel, catapulting you up over your handle bars and onto the ground in, oh I don’t know, less than a second? I’m amazed that all I did was bend a spoke. The wheel even stayed true (until I started riding it that way). It’s a Velocity Blunt. I’ve had issues with the SL’s on my rear wheel, but this one has been bullet proof, and now that I’m back to the base model Blunt on the rear again, I’ve had no issues there, either.

Anyway, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was working on a couple of projects that I’m excited about. The first is a lo-fi mountain bike stage challenge that incorporates most of the West Michigan mountain biking trails. What’s lo-fi you say? Well, all of the participants will be timed by using Strava and completing the Strava segments that have already been set up at each of the trails. Each rider will have 72 hours to complete all 8 trails. And to eliminate the need for offering all of the various race categories, I’ve developed a handicapping system to help level the playing field. I like to think of it as the BCS of Michigan Mountain Biking. But, because nothing like this has been developed before (that I’m aware of), I’m having to do it by hand. This has been very tedious.

Essentially, what I’m doing is going through about 10-15 races from last year, including the highly attended Barry-Roubaix, Yankee Springs Time Trial, Ore-to-Shore, and Iceman, and creating a ‘par’ completion time by averaging the finish times of the fastest 5% of the riders at each race. This is pretty simple for point-to-point and single-lap races because everyone rides the exact same course (I consider the different distance options at the BR and O2S as separate races). Many of the MMBA’s CPS races, however, require a little finagling because depending on your race class, you complete a different number of laps than the Elite riders (typically the make-up of the fastest 5%). To solve this, I went through everyone’s lap times, and when necessary, added 5% to the previous lap time to come up with the following lap time as many times as it took to equalize the number of laps for everyone. Finally I took the difference between my participant’s adjusted time (AT) at each race, subtracted the par time (PT), divided it by the AT and multiplied it by 90%. The 90% was to create a slight disadvantage for completing fewer laps. This works well for riders who may ride at the top of their class, but could very well compete in the class above them (possibly like me last year).

What you end up with, is a percentage of deviation from PT that you can average using all of the races that a rider completed and apply to each rider’s actual times for each Strava segment in the challenge. Add them all up from each of the trails and compare them to everyone else’s to see who was the fastest that weekend.

So part two of my project, which is actually where I had started and ran into the idea above, is to create a Michigan Mountain Biker Ranking. I had the notion to come up with something about a year ago, but didn’t really start mapping out how that might work until late last fall after Iceman. Some of the factors that need to be considered in putting a list like this together is not only normalizing the number of laps at each race like I did for my Strava Challenge, but also come up with some sort of trail rating in order to appropriately differentiate the race difficulty, or maybe better described as the trail type. The theory there is that some riders are better at certain types of races than others. I’m more of an endurance rider and do better at longer races with mid-to-more total elevation gain.

I’m still working out what calculations I might use to come up with an overall rider ranking, but in the meantime I ended up creating what I believe to be a fair trail rating equation that uses three factors: elevation gain per mile; trail length; and technical difficulty. Of those three factors, technical difficulty will be the most subjective, while elevation gain and trail length have been some of the more difficult data to find. For that I have gone back to Strava. Because that data is based on GPS information which is somewhat subject to each device’s reception there is some discrepancy and inaccuracy (or lack of precision), if I use the same type of data for all of the courses it should still provide a good comparison. This is what I have come up with so far:

Trail / Race Course (Per lap) Elev. Gain per Mile Climb Rating Tech Rating Length Length Rating Overall Course Rating 3
Addison Oaks 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Al Quaal 0.0 10.0 12.2 4.1 4.7
Al Sabo 0.0 10.0 5.9 8.5 6.2
Allegan SGA 18.8 8.9 9 16.0 3.1 7.0
Anderson Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Arcadia Dunes 104.3 3.7 3 11.5 4.3 3.7
Aspen Park 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Bald Mountain 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Barry Roubaix 24 66.7 6.0 8 24.0 2.1 5.4
Barry Roubaix 36 61.1 6.3 8 36.0 1.4 5.2
Barry Roubaix 62 45.2 7.3 8 62.0 0.8 5.4
Bass River 18.8 8.9 2 8.0 6.3 5.7
Bennett Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Betsie River Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Big M 100.0 4.0 4 40.0 1.3 3.1
Black Mountain 0.0 10.0 30.0 1.7 3.9
Bloomer 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Boyne Challenge 133.9 2.0 2 9.3 5.4 3.1
Boyne Mountain 125.0 2.5 2 16.0 3.1 2.5
Brighton 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Bruno’s Run 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Burchfield 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Cadillac Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Cannon Township MTB Trail 0.0 10.0 1.2 41.7 17.2
Canonsburg Ski Area 97.4 4.2 4 7.7 6.5 4.9
Canonsburg State Game Area 60.0 6.4 5 7.5 6.7 6.0
Cheboygan 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Chippewa Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 6.6 7.6 5.9
Clear Lake 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Clinton River Park Trail 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Copper Harbor 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Deerfield 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Eagle Run Trail 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Edwards Creek 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Ehlco 0.0 10.0 26.9 1.9 4.0
Ella Sharp 0.0 10.0 11.0 4.5 4.8
Fort Custer Stampede 0.0 10.0 4 11.6 4.3 6.1
Fort Custer Trail 0.0 10.0 4 20.0 2.5 5.5
Frankenmuth Trails 0.0 10.0 2.0 25.0 11.7
Gladwin Trail 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Grand Island 0.0 10.0 23.0 2.2 4.1
Grand River 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Greenville Shearer Rd 0.0 10.0 5.2 9.6 6.5
Hanson Hills 0.0 10.0 21.0 2.4 4.1
Harlow Lake 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Hartwick Pines 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Heritage Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Hewens Creek 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Hickory Glen 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
High Country Pathway 0.0 10.0 80.0 0.6 3.5
Highland 167.0 0.0 14.7 3.4 1.1
Holdridge 106.9 3.6 14.0 3.6 2.4
Hungerford Lake 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Iceman Cometh 82.4 5.1 5 30.0 1.7 3.9
Ionia 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Island Lake 52.0 6.9 13.0 3.8 3.6
Jailhouse Trail 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Kensington to Proud Lk Connector 0.0 10.0 2.5 20.0 10.0
Lake Ann Pathway 0.0 10.0 5.8 8.6 6.2
Lakelands Trail 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Lakeshore Park 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Lightning Bend City Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Love Creek 0.0 10.0 4.2 11.9 7.3
Luton Park 66.7 6.0 3 9.0 5.6 4.9
MacKenzie Trail 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Madeline Bertrand 0.0 10.0 2.2 22.7 10.9
Marquette South Trails 0.0 10.0 20.0 2.5 4.2
Maybury 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Merrell Trail – Red Direction 101.7 3.9 3 5.9 8.5 5.1
Merrell Trail – Yellow Direction 101.7 3.9 4 5.9 8.5 5.5
Michigan Tech Trails 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Mid Michigan Community College 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Midland City Forest 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Midland-Mackinac Trail 0.0 10.0 11.4 4.4 4.8
Milford Trail 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Morton-Taylor Trails 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Munson 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Negwegon 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
North Country Trail 73.7 5.6 25.7 1.9 2.5
North Higgins Lake 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
Norway Ridge Pathway 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Ogemaw Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.6 3.7 4.6
Olson Park 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Ore to Shore 31.4 8.1 5 49.5 1.0 4.7
Orion Oaks 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Ortonville 0.0 10.0 3.5 14.3 8.1
Owassippe 124.9 2.5 11.0 4.5 2.4
Pando Ski Area 100.0 4.0 5 6.0 8.3 5.8
Pigeon Creek 0.0 10.0 9 10.0 5.0 8.0
Pine Haven 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Pomeroy/Henry Lake 0.0 10.0 50.0 1.0 3.7
Pontiac Lake 110.0 3.4 11.0 4.5 2.6
Porcupine Mountains 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Potowatomi 88.2 4.7 17.1 2.9 2.5
Proud Lake 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Refuge Bike Park 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Rifle River 0.0 10.0 15.0 3.3 4.4
Riley Trails 41.7 7.5 6 6.0 8.3 7.3
River Bends 0.0 10.0 6.9 7.2 5.7
Robinette’s 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Rolling Hills Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Rouge Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Ruby Campground 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Seven Lakes 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Sharon Mills 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Shingle Mill Pathway 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Sleeper 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Sleepy Hollow 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Stony Creek 64.0 6.2 14.0 3.6 3.2
Swedetown 0.0 10.0 33.0 1.5 3.8
T.K. Lawless 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Tisdale Triangle Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Upper Macatawa Trail 100.0 4.0 3 2.0 25.0 10.7
Valley Spur Bike Trail 0.0 10.0 26.0 1.9 4.0
VASA Singletrack 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Wakely Lake 0.0 10.0 16.5 3.0 4.3
Waterloo 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Whiskey Creek 0.0 10.0 22.0 2.3 4.1
Wilderness SP 0.0 10.0 16.0 3.1 4.4
Wildwood Hills 0.0 10.0 9.5 5.3 5.1
Yankee Springs 90.0 4.6 4 13.6 3.7 4.1
Yankee Springs Time Trial 109.1 3.5 5 22.0 2.3 3.6
Averages 83.3

So that’s what I had been working on before I got crazy busy, and I should be able to get back to it again over the next couple of months to finish it up. In the meantime, I’m working on ramping up my training for my first race, which is now a month away. I’m really looking forward to racing again and I’ll be sure to keep my feet out of my wheels from now on


.

Coming Up For Air

I’m telling you right now, I will have to dive back under again, and soon. I’m hoping I fare better this next round. The last couple of weeks were brutal….for my biking (let’s be honest, here). First launching into a great ski trip out to Lake Tahoe (outside of the 9 hours of travel…flying each way) and then being catapulted into the final stages of multiple deal closings when I returned, my bike training took a real hit.

Though I was planning on my ski trip week as a ‘down week’, I ended up with a cold the Monday before I left which limited my riding to one night of easy spinning. Ski conditions were good, but not the 12-24” of fresh powder that really wears you out, so the first two days of skiing were simply not that draining. It wasn’t until Saturday that we found a real nice groove off one of the lifts and wore it out (I’m still working on the video I took with my GoPro). Sunday was entirely spent traveling home (left Lake Tahoe at 8a.m. CA time, boarded our 11:20a.m. flight out of Sacramento, flew for 3 ½ hours to Atlanta, boarded our next flight out 2 hours later, and landed in Grand Rapids at 11:15 making it home by midnight.

I knew returning to work I’d have some catch up to do, but thought I was in decent shape from keeping up with email while I was out of the office. Uh, yeah right. Outside of Wednesday where I was able to get out on my single speed for an hour, my days consisted of dropping the kids off at school, busting it to work, leaving around 5-5:30, eating dinner with the family, wrestling with the kids, putting them to bed around 7:30, and going back to my work until midnight. It was exhausting, but make no mistake about it, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in my job by Friday night.

So these are the challenges of being an amateur mountain biker. However, only fools long to replace their life with that of a full time rider. You either quit your job and do it, or be satisfied with the balancing act. I don’t wish to give up what I’m doing to chase that dream. But being a competitive person I do get a bit down knowing that my training restrictions won’t allow me to achieve all that I’m capable of on the bike (or at least all that I THINK I’m capable of 🙂 ).

What I’ve resolved to doing is replacing time with intensity. Trying to be very smart about how I spend my time on the bike when I AM on it. So, I’ve played with some of my workouts again. I’ll still be keeping my sprint drills and sustain programs in my quiver to pull out regularly; but I want to try mixing it up a bit as well. This winter has made it a bit harder to ride outside without a fat tire bike so far with the 8 inches of snow, rain, 8 inches of snow, rain, cycle we’ve had. The plows have not been able to keep up with the snow on the bike paths like usual which makes them essentially impassable with a standard 2.3” tire. So, I’ve had to spend a bit more time in the basement than I’d care to, but hopefully as we near the end of February here, the weather will turn a little which will allow me to start my 2-3 hour shoulder and gravel road rides.

With all of that load dropped on you, here’s my plan for this week (I know part of its already past):

TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 17, 2013
Sprint Intervals: Total Day
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
30 second on – 100%
20 30 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
24 4 minute rest – 40%
60 seconds on – Standing
30 30 seconds off – 40%  4 total reps (6 minutes)
35 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
45 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
55 5 minute rest – 40%
60 seconds on – Standing
61 30 seconds off – 40%  4 total reps (6 minutes)
65 4 minute rest – 40%
72 Sustain – accelerating speed
75 3 minute rest – 40%
95 Sustain – accelerating speed
105 10 minute cool down – 40% 105 Tuesday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Sustain Sprints:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
20 10 minute sustain
22 2 minute rest
25 1 minute standing 30 second rest (2x)
30 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off (5x)
50 20 minute sustain – 80%
60 10 minute cool down – 30% 60 Wednesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Trail Ride:
Get to a local trail: Ride hard for a while 105 Saturday
Indoor Fun Ride:
Variation for 90 minutes 90 Sunday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 120 minutes 120 Thursday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
TOTAL 8.0

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’ve changed my WordPress template. Sometimes change is just necessary to ‘keep it fresh’ (for me mostly, but also for you). Changes are coming slowly as time allows me to figure out lay-out and feature options (I really wish Pinterest would get their API complete so I could add that element to my blog).
I continue to get caught up in the non-biking areas of my life. I haven’t been able to get a good post in, but here’s a post on developing a training plan.

Talk to you soon

Michigan Mountain Biking: The Training Chronicles

I’ve been busy. Lake Tahoe was fun. This past week was a terrible week for and of training. I don’t have a ton of time to update my blog right now, so I was forced to be efficient doing two things at once: ride my bike AND create a blog post at the same time. Here’s the result:

 

And here’s the kids sledding down the hill:

 

Talk to you soon….

RFS

This means I didn’t go for a ride tonight. It means I’m Really Frickin’ Sore. I’m not sure exactly why, but if it’s because of the last two nights, I’m happy to do more.

It started with dedicating a night off the bike to strength training on Thursday night (after 2 straight nights on the bike) which included pushups, pullups, and split squats. I decided to mix up my sustain ride last night and warmed up, sustained my normal 18-19mph pace for 40 minutes and then cooled down. Today I’ve been more sore than I’ve been after any other ride since I’ve started riding bikes again. Trying to follow this ‘listen to your body’ approach to training, I decided to skip my planned ride for tonight. I’d like to know from others who have been following a training program on whether or not you work through it or take the break.

I’m skiing tomorrow and then have a monthly off-week while I ski out west Thursday through Saturday so I am saving my energy for that. Here’s my training program for this week….and then the plan for next week.

TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF JANUARY 27, 2013
Sprint Intervals: Total Completed ?
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
15 second on – 100%
20 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
25 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
35 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
40 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
50 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
55 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
65 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
70 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
80 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
85 5 minute rest – 40%
40 seconds on – 90%
95 20 seconds off – 40%    10 total reps (10 minutes)
105 10 minute cool down – 40% 105 Tuesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Sustain:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
50 40 Minutes stustained pace – 80/90%
60 10 minute cool down – 30% 60 Friday
13 Commute: 13 Friday
Mixed Bag
Mix up some sustain and sprint intervals 67 Sunday
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort 90 Wednesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
TOTAL 5.6
TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 3, 2013
SKI TRIP THIS WEEK
Outdoor Fun Ride:
Whatever for however long 60 Sunday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 90 minutes 90 Tuesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
TOTAL 2.5