West Michigan Mountain Biking / Accelerate Labs Update

I’ve been busy building out Accelerate Labs social media with articles and content, riding my mountain bike and posting the proof on my YouTube Channel. I’m working hard to present you with my full effort, but for now, here’s some teaser content from my YouTube Channel. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Planning for Another 100

This 100th post was much harder to write than I originally thought. I wanted to get it just right. This is why it has taken this long to complete.

About a month ago, I was sitting on the trainer thinking to myself (as I often do) about how my training regimen would translate into race performance. I had been working particularly hard compared to years past and was hopeful that the strategy would pay off. After my ride I hopped on the scale, as I do about once a week, and discouragingly reviewed my equivalent of the magic eight ball’s response. 240. ERRGGGHH! If only I had the discipline to manage my food intake I’d be able to drop weight with the amount of riding I was doing.

And then, as if I were the Wiley Coyotte screeching to a halt over the middle of a gulley, I stopped and said “Wait. What?!” “If only I had the DISCIPLINE!?” That was humbling. I realized right then and there that something owned me. It explained the shame after eating my box of Triscuits and half block of sharp cheddar cheese. But it wasn’t a comfortable realization.

Discipline, I realized, was more than convincing myself at every test not to give in to an option counter to my goal. Discipline wasn’t trying to push myself into the positive action castle, but that I was defending the castle from an intruder. It’s my house. But…seconds tick, minutes slip away, hours pass, days go by and the disappointment of that realization fades. I concede small battle areas. “Avery won’t eat an entire ¼ pounder; I’ll just add that little bit to my burger.” Before you can blink, I’m numb to the frustration I initially felt.

But this is more than just about food. And at the same time it’s not really about anything important at all, either. It’s just the minor battles I encounter while trying to accomplish my competitive goals. They’re not life or death issues so I need to keep that in perspective. But it did point out that there’s more that I can do in my training.

This past Sunday was the Yankee Springs Time Trial; the first true mountain bike race of my season. I took the entire week off two weeks ago, the week I was supposed to really hit it pretty good before a taper week last week. But I just needed the mental reset. I did fine on Sunday. Not as well as I maybe could have if I hadn’t skipped that week, but just fine.

I’m hoping that these are fairly common struggles of weekend warrior athletes. This week is a good hard week and then next week is another taper week leading up to the Fort Custer Stampede. I’m looking forward to the physical and mental challenges of this season. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time training physically over the winter. I’m planning on a few ‘mental taper’ weeks to help out with the mental strengthening . I’m planning them now so that I can hopefully avoid taking them out of necessity in inopportune times. My new plan is to research and add some mental, sport specific, training. I’m thinking this could lead to some new and different posts over my next 100.

Milestones

Gravel Groove

 

With yesterday’s ride of just under 3 hours, I surpassed the 10 hour weekly training mark for the first time. Ever. I’m paying for it a bit today with a sore lower back (legs are tight as a drum pulling on my lower back muscles) but I’ll fix that with an extra warm-up period each ride and plenty of water. That’s a major accomplishment for me. It will be important that I keep up that level or higher saddle time. I also am beginning to work harder on the trainer and have begun what I’m calling “Spring Training”. I’m working on a vide (imagine that) that I’ll post sometime after the Barry-Roubaix.

Our ride yesterday was much better than my ride of the same route last Sunday. The shoulder of Lakeshore Drive had firmed up over the week making it feasible to ride on. Most of the snow had melted off the shoulder as well and drained leaving very few puddles to dodge. The gravel roads were also free of snow/ice for the most part so there were no spills (or even close calls). I rode with two other shop teammates up to the northernmost point and just as we were reaching our turn-around spot, two other friendly faces came riding around the corner. So, we made the return south with five of us, which was great because we were heading into the wind on the way back.

It’s still muddy and cold out there, but there’s just no better feeling than spending time outside on the bike. I had some really wise advice over the past couple of weeks that is allowing me to relax going into the Barry-Roubaix in 2 weeks: don’t worry about the podium, it’s supposed to be a fun race for me and just a part of the training for mountain bike season. I’m still going to give it all I have and am a bit anxious that I’m not in the same shape this year as last year at this time, but I’m no longer placing the same level of expectation on myself as compared to, say, Iceman. It’s going to be a great ride and a fun day.

So on to my training plan. Did anyone notice my scheduling conflict last week? I didn’t think so. I had planned two rides for Saturday which made the plan seem relatively easy until Thursday when I realized the error. I simply added a 45 minute recovery spin on Friday night, which was helpful for Saturday’s ride anyway. I try to plan out my rides around known events, but my actual rides usually vary a bit in response to conflicts that come up and how I’m feeling. Here’s the plan for this week (Sunday is actual):

TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2013
Total Completed ?
Recovery Spin:
Spin the lets out 80 Sunday
Sustain:
10 10 minute warm up – 30% 90 Monday
30 20 minute sustain – 80%
35 5 minute rest – 30%
55 20 minute sustain – 80%
60 5 minute rest – 30%
80 20 minute sustain – 80%
90 10 minute cool down – 30%
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Fun Ride:
Whatever for however long 120 Wednesday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Sprint Intervals: 105 Thursday
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%
Strength Training – Upper Body
Recovery Spin:
Spin the legs out 45 Friday
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort 150 Saturday
Strength Training – Upper Body
TOTAL 9.8

Ultimate Cycling Challenge

I participated in the Ultimate Cycling Challenge at Ridgepoint Community Church in Holland as a part of the Cross Country Cycle MTB team last Saturday. The fundraiser was started several years ago to help raise funds for the LiveStrong Foundation. Needless to say, eyes darted around the room when it was announced at our team meeting that we’d be participating again this year. Fortunately, despite Lance’s recent banishment and ‘coming clean’ (to any extent that can be believed), the place was packed.

Our team had two spots side-by-side which made spending a couple of hours on the bike much more enjoyable as I got to know one of my teammates whom I’ve ridden around, but never had the chance to get to know that well. Here’s a brief video of the venue and example of the activities going on while we rode:

 

And some pictures:

Jason & I Don & Mark

Ice Ride

Ice Ride

So I took my Epic out today for it’s inaugural ride for the 2013 season. It was a welcome return of both suspension and gears.  It was a bright sunny day over in my neck of the woods, but the temperature was hovering right around freezing and there was a pretty stiff North West wind so I bundled up pretty good. With the Barry-Roubaix now 3 weeks away, it was time to find out where I stood in my preparations.

I wasn’t sure what kind of shape I was going to be in after not having a great winter of getting outside for rides. Last year’s abnormally warm winter put me (as well as many other Michigan riders) in great shape for the spring race season. I planned out a 42 mile route that included my well traveled Lakeshore Drive gravel shoulder routine as well as the gravel road route that I found last fall. As soon as I started heading out to the big lake, I knew I was going to be in for a challenge. Here’s the link to my Strava:

http://app.strava.com/activities/43044286

The bike path out to the lake is now 70-80% clear, but with my Epic the little bit of snow didn’t bother me or present much of a problem. With the sun beating down on it, the covered areas were pretty soft without any ice. Then heading north on Lakeshore Drive, the wind and conditions became a real factor. I always hop off the bike path at that point and jump over to the shoulder for the gravel training, which was a real mess. Some areas were totally clear and dried out; some areas were still snow covered, but hard-packed; and some areas were so soupy from snow melting that I felt like I was dragging a couple of riders with me. Add in the headwind and I started to become pretty discouraged at the speed I was carrying. I started fighting my typical mental battles around cutting my planned route short, coming up with every logical, acceptable excuse in the book on why it would be o.k. if I couldn’t complete my plan today.

I won at that point and continued on. I found out, though, that this would not be the worst of the work. After my Lakeshore Drive tour, I head a bit north and then east at the power plant to head over to farm country where the few gravel roads left between Holland and Grand Haven exist. Less than 30 seconds onto the gravel, or should I say Ice Road, I was sprawled out in someone’s driveway. Normally I like to carry a pretty good sense of humor and self deprivation about these things, but that really hurt. I wasn’t down long before collecting myself and hoping back on the bike but I felt like I had broken my hand for the next 10 minutes or so. I found later that I had given myself a pretty good bruise and scrape on my upper hip as well.

The gravel road did improve and all was going pretty well up until I hit M45. Once north of it, the road becomes lined with tall, mature trees that hide the street from direct sunlight that would normally melt the snow. I tentatively navigated the last couple of miles to where my turn-around was. Immediately, as soon as I stopped to turn around and grab the last of my chomps, the combination of my lack of studded tires and hard soled shoes provided for another excellent opportunity for me to lay on the ground. Fortunately I didn’t land as hard as the first time, but it still pointed out to me how slick the road actually was. My ride back south was at a snail’s pace, despite now having the benefit of the wind.

I was able to make it out of the worst section without incident, and started enjoying the support of that North West wind. Though I did realize, that when you’re heading directly south, you still tend to forget the effects of the NORTH part of that wind in favor of the still evident WEST crosswind J. My speed picked up dramatically and I headed home without further incident. My bike was caked with mud that had been frozen to my bike and the final score was 2 hours, 45 minutes. I’ve completed that ride in far less time, so I have my work cut out for me, but it was still great to get outside, figure out where I stood in my conditioning, and enjoy the sunshine.

For the week, I am removing all off-the-bike leg strength exercises as I kick up the time. I’m looking forward to a good week.

TRAINING SCHEDULE: WEEK OF MARCH 3, 2013
Total Completed ?
Outdoor Fun Ride:
Whatever for however long 165 Sunday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Recovery Ride:
Strength Training – Upper Body 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 – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 90 minutes 60 Saturday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Sustain:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
30 20 minute sustain – 80%
35 5 minute rest – 30%
55 20 minute sustain – 80%
60 5 minute rest – 30%
80 20 minute sustain – 80%
90 10 minute cool down – 30% 90 Thursday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 90 minutes 120 Saturday
Strength Training – Upper Body
TOTAL 10.0

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

 

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