Friday, December 21, 2007

T-Max Intervals 12-21

Here's a brief description of my second attempt at T-max interval training.

I used a flat 10 mile course, warmed up slowly for 5 miles, and started the intervals.

The first one went well. I was able to hold onto 400 watts for 2 minutes without any taper.

The rest phase went pretty well with my heart rate dropping down to 130 by the end of 4 minutes.

The second interval I was able to hold 400 watts again for 2 minutes without tapering, but required much more concentration.

By the end of the second rest period I was not ready to go hard, my heart rate did not drop below 140.

I tried to go and got my watts up to 400 but decided to call it quits quickly, not feeling very good.

Finished a quick cool down to close out the course. Will have to start the intervals before 5 miles next time as I would have passed the end of the course before the 3rd power phase had ended, or make the course longer.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Larry Shwartz Award

I've been tossing the Larry Shwartz Award around in my head for a couple of years now. Riding a century at least once every month.

Here's a ride I'm looking at. If done across two months (Aug 31 to Sep 2) according to the rules of the Larry Shwartz Award I could bank a third month (January) at the same time.

Day 1: Ride to Dahlonega

View Larger Map

Day 2: Ride the Six Gap Century Course (ie., play in the mountains).

View Larger Map

Day 3: Return Home

View Larger Map

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

First T-Max Interval x 3

After riding pretty hard on Sunday I gave myself 2 days to recover before I started T-Max training. Even with the time off I didn't have a full tank because I started at 11:30 at night. Christmas time is pretty crazy around my house, I'm looking forward to after New Years, hopefully my schedule will get a little more routine.

Anyway, with limited time available I didn't spend enough time warming up and started the First Interval too soon. I figured I would warm up quickly during the interval, and I did. 400 watts for 2 minutes seemed lot harder than 400 watts for 3:16, a LOT HARDER. I couldn't hold it, nearing the end I was tapering down to 320 watts. During the rest phase I coasted, spinning at 130+-Watts. My rest phase was 4 minutes, which seemed pretty short, and my heart rate recovered nicely. I went into the Second Interval focused on 400 watts, trying not to go over and trying not to go under, this time it was a little easier to hold but I still had to taper down. After another rest period I started the Third Interval trying not to focus on the pain. Again I could not hold 400 for the whole interval, tapering slightly at the end.

After those three efforts my vomit threshold was approaching so I just cooled down and watched the end of the race.

My course setup was 10 miles with 0.8% grade. During the intervals I was traveling about 25 mph, during the rest phase it was 13-16 mph. During the 2 minute Power phase I would travel almost 1 mile.

I think next time I will try a flat course. This will bring my speed up a little higher, and make it easier to cool down.

I hope to get one more T-Max session in this week, we'll see what happens.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Morning - RideMore - 2007-12-16

With the winds up, coming from the west, and with the temperature dropping there were few people to spread the work around this morning. Five brave souls showed their faces to start the ride at 8:00 AM.

Taking off from the village market we headed towards Apison. The group almost got split at the train crossing but everyone made it under the gates before the train arrived. The speed was up and we were cruising with a big 20+mph wind pushing from the back. We headed south down Bill Jones, turning right and then left we went down Salem-Valley. As we dropped passed the beef farm and went up the rise towards Ware rd, we noticed a bull calf outside the fence on the road. As we approached we slowed, sure enough he wanted to come across the road to rejoin his buddies on the other side of the fence. Sprinting as he approached the fence, he went right through the fence and hardly slowed down. (Note to self: Don't mock the bulls standing by the roads, the fences will have even less effect on them if they decide they want through).

From there we proceeded to Spivey, crossed Keith to Headrick and headed North on Stewart. From there the work started in earnest and the group split a couple of times due to the high winds and the effort needed to keep going. We followed Old Tunnel Hill, Carson, Wesslyan, and Apison Pike to complete the circuit to the Village Market.

Two of us decided to do an additional 10 mile loop down Ringold Rd, returning up Standifer Gap. Traffic was a concern that didn't materialize, with only 4 or 5 cars passing.

The whole time we rode the snow/sleet was spitting but not much of a factor. The cold chilled my face making it difficult to form clear words, and one of my toes was beginning to chill off at the end of the ride. Those were the only cold difficulties that I experienced.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate it an 8, with minus points for the wind. Overall a very nice ride.

Ride Route

Pre/Post ride comments

Friday, December 14, 2007

December T-Max Test

I did not sleep very well last night for a few different reasons, one of which was the Tmax test that I had planned for 5:00am. When I woke up I lay in bed for awhile deciding whether or not I wanted to actually try the test.

At 5:45 I finally got up and prepared to do the test. I couldn't find my heart rate chest strap, looking back I think that was a good thing(I always ride harder if I don't know what my heart is doing). I new that I wasn't going to last real long on the test so I set up a course of 5 miles with a 0.7% grade, climbing 185 feet in 5 miles. I did this to add a little more resistance to the wheel and reduce the speed of the test but still have minimal resistance during the warm up/cool down. I could have set up a flat approach and a 10% grade, but I didn't know how long it would take me to get to exhaustion and I didn't want to have to stop in the middle of a too long hill. (One of the peculiarities of the Axiom Powertrain software is that you have to finish/complete the miles of the ride plan in order to be able to save the data.)

With everything ready I started the test. My throat was dry, I reached down and my water bottle was almost empty, it will have to do, I don't want stop now. I'm spinning slowly at 100 watts as I watch the 12th stage of the '05 TDF. I spin easily for 10 minutes throwing three 400 watt accelerations in to wake up the legs. At 10 minutes I start the test. Accelerating I reach 400 watts, this doesn't seem so hard. I concentrate on the stage race trying to breath smoothly. At the 1:00 minute mark I feel pretty good, breathing rhythmic and steady, focused on 400 watts and trying to maintain the pace. My throat is starting to burn, grab some water. At 2:00 minutes I am breathing like a steam train blowing air just as fast as it comes in, man this is hard! At 2:30 I force myself to maintain the pace, my legs are screaming, I think I can make it to 3:00. At 3:00 minutes I'm still moving at 400 watts and holding, I'm on the edge and I know it, I surge and hold on until 3:16. I feel sick. I need water. I spin down dropping to below 100 watts and finish the 5 miles trying to recover from my insanity.

With all the numbers in I can now generate my Tmax interval plan.

With a Tmax time of 3:16 and an Interval of .6 * Tmax I get 1:58 for the power phase and 3:55 for my rest phase. With a goal of 8 intervals my total ride time will be 47 minutes and roughly 20 miles(I don't feel I will be able to do all 8 anytime soon).

My plan for the next 6 weeks will be 2 Tmax intervals/week with easier riding(zones 1-3) the other days for recovery and growth. If I get too tired I will drop some of the in-between rides and try to maintain my Tmax plan

The following table is taken from Richard Stern's article on Power

Males [Level of Training]
Up to 15 [Untrained]
15.1-17 [Fair]
17.1-20 [Moderate]
20.1-21 [Average]
21.1-23 [Good]
23.1-24.8 [Very Good]
24.9-26 [Excellent]
26.1-27 [Extremely Fit]
27.1-29 [World Class]
29.1-35 [World Class- Pro Tour]

Using the formula, power/mass*0.67 or W/kg*0.67 gives me a rating of 18.89 (moderately fit). Dropping to my Ideal weight of 165 puts me at 22.20 (in the middle of "Good"). Dropping to my Ideal weight and Increasing my PPO to 500 puts me at 27.75 ("World Class").

I will retest PPO and Tmax after 6 weeks of training to see if this plan has done any good. I will also be watching the scales.

PS - Disclaimer - This is an extremely strenuous test that will take you to exhaustion, even after 3 hours rest I can still feel the effects of the effort. If you are unsure of your medical condition see your physician before attempting to do these tests.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Peak Power Output Test

I've been pondering my fitness levels (or lack thereof) for awhile. There hasn't seemed to be much movement either way, and having struggled for years with the winter drain, I wanted something different. While browsing the Bicycling magazine I ran across this article, the T-Max interval.

Anyone who knows me, or has ridden with me, knows that the hills are my nemesis and I have been pondering what to do about it. The T-Max interval seems like it could help in my search for a breakthrough.

Two years ago my wife gave me a Real Axiom Power Trainer. Mine is similar to the one in the link but without the "real" which means it doesn't have the nice scrolling/syncronized pictures of the course. It can be programmed to simulate any terrain that you want to ride, from flat to bruttaly steep. Most importantly it reads out in WATTS.

During the previous 2 winters I was not serious about fitness maintenance or actual improvement, which I wanted to change this year, so I have decided to actually use this machine and see what it will do for me. Am I serious? Time will tell. I never have been before.

Sunday I had a good base ride on the road, and the last 2 mornings I put in some base training on the trainer. As I woke up this morning I decided it was time to do the ramp test to see what my PPO (Peak Power Output) was.

I set my course up to do a 10 mile ride up a 0.5% grade, enough to give my legs something to bite into but not too much so I could cool down after the test. The test is a stepped power ramp starting at 100 watts, and stepping up 30 watts every minute until your legs turn to jelly and you fall off your trainer puking your guts out. I started the course and warmed up for 5 minutes at 50 watts, just turning the cranks over easily. After 5 minutes I bumped the power up to 100 and then began the progression, 30 watts increase every minute, trying dissociation at the higher output levels to keep going. I made it through 11 minutes but could not surge again, which give me a PPO of 400 watts. I may not have gone hard enough because I didn't puke or fall off the machine. I think I was pretty close to my max though, my heart rate peaked at 193 which I have seen before during some hi-intensity efforts. Overall I was satisfied with the effort.

Although I now have my PPO, the test is not over yet. I will do another easy ride tomorrow, 10 miles at 200 watts Here is the spreadsheet of my test

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday Group ride - 12-09-2007

Group ride?, there was no group.

I woke to the sound of rain at 6:00am and went down to check the radar. The rain appeared to be moving off rapidly so I decided to catch a few zzz's and see what it looked like at 7:00am. Woke up at 7:10, realized I did not have enough time to get ready and eat, so I got ready to ride- grabbed 2 powerbars (Recipe) - woke my son and told him about the roads being wet - jumped on my bike and went to meet the 7:30 group. The 7:30 group was me, so I rode 9 miles to get ready for the 8:00 group. When I arrived at the 8:00 meeting point there was one other rider (my son) waiting for the group depart.

We gave everyone a fair chance to show up, decided there wouldn't be anyone else, and took off. It was a gorgeous December day with temperatures approaching 65°F during the ride. We counted 3 broadwing hawks, a pileated, and a white crown sparrow. One of the hawks actually disgorged some of it's meal when we stopped to watch him. I'm not sure if he was making a commentary or not.

Traffic and winds were low, and we travelled a new road, something that's hard to do after riding in the same area for many years. Pacing for once wasn't a problem, it was a nice slow ride at a conversational pace, although we did some animated sprints to liven things up.

While returning home, we happened upon a cyclist that had flatted. We offered to fix his flat, not wanting his ride to end on such a nice day, but he refused and said his support crew/vehicle was scheduled to arrive any minute.

Did I mention that it was a great ride?

This was the ride plan

This was the Actual Ride

Monday, November 26, 2007


Have you ever made a "plan" or a set of goals for your bike season/year? At home I get laughed at for dreaming up ways to get faster during the year, and trying to execute "the plan".

This year I have cycled without a plan, mostly just riding when it was convenient with no specific goals in mind. There are several problems with this style of riding. If you don't ride and "train" to get yourself up to the level of performance of the guys that you occasionally ride with, you Suffer Like a Dog (Which I did far too much this past summer) during group hammerfests.

The alternative? Develop a better plan. This could take several different approaches.

The Hard Plan, simply put, train hard all winter and come out riding better and stronger than 95% of my comrades. This of course will only work for about a month or two until they catch on and become faster than me, which puts me right back to where I am right now, the Dog Sufferer.

The Easy Plan, do no training. Give up any faux fitness I have, stop riding with the Sunday Group. Sleep in Sunday mornings, eat as if there will be a long famine next summer. If caught out riding by any of my comrades, feign a flat tire, ride into a ditch, pretend my knee hurts, otherwise hide my inability to ride a bike up a hill.

So what's it going to be?

Spring is just around the corner...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Last Dash

With little time before dark, my son and I took to the road. We didn't have much of a plan to start with, so we didn't shoot off like a gun, but a couple miles down the road I let the hammer drop.

The wind was driving us along pretty well and we arrived in Apison, with 20+ mph. At the crossing of Apison & E. Brainerd we ran into a riding buddy who we coaxed into continuing on with us. From there we flew up to Clonts, over to McGhee, down to Bill Jones and decided to head back to the house.

It was back into the wind, with a valiant effort, turning ourselves inside out, we got back to the house with a 19.9 (I'll take it).

Going up University Drive, just past Moore road, there is a steep pitch that is our final climb and final test. We hit it just as hard as we could. Ahead of us near our turn-in, on the side of the road, was a man standing (waiting for us so he could cross the road) that shouted as we went by "VIVA le Tour De France" in a french accent, to which I could not respond because I was in serious oxygen debt, barely able to feel my legs. Just imagine 10,000 people standing beside the road cheering you on, the roar of the crowds lifting you up the mountain. Well, one was pretty nice, I don't expect I'll ever see many more.

Most rides are worthwhile just because you're out there riding, but this was one of those special rides. A ride to remember through the cold and dark evenings of winter when you look back and analyze the year, and wait and make plans to do it better next year.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years here I come!

Here's the Track & Stats

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hounds of Red Clay Road

There were 5 of us out tonight to stretch the legs, raise the heart rates, and enjoy a great evening. This was the route traveled, 29 miles - 2900 feet - 18 mph.

It was my plan to do some climbing tonight, which is my greatest weakness. It went well enough, I wasn't seriously dropped anywhere although I suspect most everyone was running a few heartbeats slower than the red line my heart rate was at.

Right at the start of the ride, we were passed by an old fire truck that was bellowing a huge cloud of fumes which we were surrounded with for a couple hundred feet. Due to the time of day, we were also forced to ride with testosterone filled pickup drivers who like to rev their engines to show their IQ levels, what a nuisance.

We were jumped by 4 or 5 hound-dogs that took chase and didn't want to give up. I was at the front at the time so I didn't get to see most of the action. The dogs were persistent little devils, spreading out behind and on both sides of the road. Fortunately there was no contact.

Freddie the Friendly jackass was his usual braying self, a sight to see, and eager to be heard.

There was some discussion about getting back before dark, so the hammer started striking the anvil with a heavier beat, bringing us in just before the bats started flying.

3 more days until the time changes.

Weight today 210 lbs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Ride Tuesday

Even the best laid plans sometimes don't work out. Well, maybe not best laid plans, I was still pretty tired from last nights agony.

Maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe even a large Wednesday Group ride hammerfest.

Into the Final Stretch

The week that I've been dreading is finally upon us. When the time changes early Sunday morning it signals a drastic reduction in available light at the end of the regular work day.

For those of us that ride bikes in the evening, the time change effectively ends the fall ride season. Yes, you still can get out on the weekends, but evening rides during rush-hour are seldom enjoyable if not dangerous.

This week being what it is, I've decided to try and get a ride in each day this week.

Last night I started sloooowly (solo - as my riding partner had to mow the grass) with a goal of riding 20 miles. I decided about 3 miles into the ride to do an old out and back Time Trial course, and layed on the firewood to see what kind of time I could get. I ended the ride with a 20.3 overall, pretty good for me considering the lazy start and 300' climbing to get back home after my legs felt like lead.

I saw only 3 other riders out on the road! Where's everyone else?

With the lack of time to ride on the road, it becomes imperative to get on the trainer and dream of next summer. I have a love/hate relationship with my trainer, I love to hate it. What I hate even worse is to come into the spring riding season trying to regain all the ground lost over the winter. I'm thinking about 3-5 hrs per week will keep the legs fairly fresh which means 48-60 hrs of torture until the beginning of March when the time changes back.

I'm going to have to get my old Tour tapes out to try and keep my sanity.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Veloroutes - Google Earth

Over the next few days I will be using Veloroutes to map the trails of the Cohutta Wilderness area.

What is really nice about Veloroutes is the way you can create trails off road using the "Elevation" maps.

  1. Start by selecting "Create a new route" on the left side of the Home page.
  2. Select Elevation in the upper right hand corner to see USGS topo maps, use this to follow marked trails, or make your own.
  3. Start clicking on the map to lay down a track, then save the route by giving it a route name.

It's a good idea to add tags in the tag box, such as the area you are mapping, or even your name. The tags are useful to be able to find your route using the search utility on the home page.

Here's an example of access to the Conasauga River Trail. Notice that I've used the following tags; Cohutta Wilderness, Conasauga. Eventually you will be able to find all the trails in the Cohutta Wilderness by using these search terms. From this site you can download the track to Google Earth, which I have done, and added it to the Google Earth Community.

On my bike rides and hikes I use a Garmin Etrex Vista to log tracks. You can upload tracks to places like MotionBased which also exports to Google Earth.

My bike rides are posted at

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

If you ever see me drooling, I was probably just looking at my favorite custom bike builders.

Parlee Cycles or Crumpton

For about two years I have been dreaming of a custom bicycle and reading from the masters over at

Not having access to or owning a torch or a machine shop I have been stuck in dream land, with no end to dreaming in site. The one thing that really slows me down is the thought of building something and having it break underneath me as I go down the road (down a mtn side).

I ride a 2000 vintage Raleigh mass produced aluminum frame with garbage can Shimano components (this is not to say I don't like Shimano, just that my components are mostly salvaged from the Ebay trash can). This frame has taken all the abuse a 200+lb rider can dish out and has not complained. Being a very low budget rider has it's risks and rewards. The risk is that at anytime you may be out of commission for an extended period, waiting for replacement parts, if something breaks. The reward comes from seeing how you can make things work and not have to pay the LBS to do it for you.

More expensive is not always better. Of course there are a hundred ways to define what better is, and would mean different things to a hundred different people.

Specifically, a good bike (to me) is one that is comfortable enough and trouble free that when you ride, you're not thinking about the bike but about the ride.

Usually I don't even think about the ride because I'm having a hard enough time finding enough air to breath. Mostly because I don't train properly (read enough), and all my friends are better climbers than I am and there is nothing but climbing around here. But that is a 'nuther whole issue.

Anyway, enjoy the ride! Get out and RideMore!
And be safe out there.

Friday, October 12, 2007

First and Foremost

Well, I visited my friends site, sBlog, and thought it was pretty cool so I'm going to start my own.

There are so many blogs to read though, I don't expect I'll post every day, maybe not even every week. Just when I get a chance and have something to share.

About the bike.

I just changed my chain on my bike, for no apparent reason. All of a sudden my chain starts slipping under the least little pressure. I measured the old one that I just took off and it was worn beyond belief. I should have just put it back on for the rest of the season, because it was working just fine, but I didn't. During the first ride with my new chain, I hit the deck on a short sharp low-speed turn and bent my handlebars and broke my bar end mirror. So I replaced my bars and my cassette but it still skips on the big chain ring, which I ordered replacements for today.

What's the lesson here? Check for chain stretch! at least one a month, and use lots of ProGold chain lube. They also have a really cool device to check for chain stretch. Of course there's always the good and cheap ruler technique too, outlined by Sheldon Brown below.

From Sheldon Brown's Page on Chains
Measuring Chain Wear
The standard way to measure chain wear is with a ruler or steel tape measure. This can be done without removing the chain from the bicycle. The normal technique is to measure a one-foot length, placing an inch mark of the ruler exactly in the middle of one rivet, then looking at the corresponding rivet 12 complete links away. On a new, unworn chain, this rivet will also line up exactly with an inch mark. With a worn chain, the rivet will be past the inch mark.

This gives a direct measurement of the wear to the chain, and an indirect measurement of the wear to the sprockets:

If the rivet is less than 1/16" past the mark, all is well.

If the rivet is 1/16" past the mark, you should replace the chain, but the sprockets are probably undamaged.

If the rivet is 1/8" past the mark, you have left it too long, and the sprockets (at least the favorite ones) will be too badly worn.

If you replace a chain at the 1/8" point, without replacing the sprockets, it may run OK and not skip, but the worn sprockets will cause the new chain to wear much faster than it should, until it catches up with the wear state of the sprockets.

If the rivet is past the 1/8" mark, a new chain will almost certainly skip on the worn sprockets, especially the smaller ones.

Checking Sprockets for wear requires a special tool by Rohloff.