Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Last Weekend Wore Me Out

And, I'm a bit discouraged by that the fact that I was so tired after two training rides, and a recovery ride.

Last Thursday, before I headed down to the Englewood Tavern to host my bi-weekly Open Mic Night, I installed the cyclometer onto the race bike. I also swapped the water bottle cage from the fat bike, and loaded up the handlebar goodie bag, so that I would be ready to go on Friday morning.

I like the little bag so much that I actually ordered another, so that I won't have the water bottle cage on the handlebar. I'll have one goodie bag full of snacks, and one with the bottle in it, and snacks in the outside mesh pockets.

Speaking of snacks ... I took all of my research into account and loaded up with high-carb foods for the training ride. I find that the general nutritional consensus is that you simply can't do endurance training and racing while strictly following the Keto plan. So, I follow it on non-ride days, and eat my carbs when I need the fuel.

On Friday, I rode 53 miles in right at four hours. Not bad time, I suppose, (an hour faster, on the same loop, than the week before), but I was pretty spent when it was done. On Saturday, I took the fat bike out for about an hour and did a fairly easy spin. Then, I rode a different route on Sunday (race bike, again), and managed 30 miles in a little under three hours.

On Sunday, a cold front moved in while I was riding, and I got quite chilled on the bike. Both my hands and feet were really cold, and I could feel it in my core, as well.

So, altogether, I rode about 80 miles, over a 3-day span, and it wore me the hell out. This does not bode well for my ability to race 100 miles in under 10 hours, 40 days from now.

I've really noticed that it is more difficult to regain my fitness now, in my late 50s, than it was 8 or 9 years ago. Time leaves no-one behind, I suppose, and I am wearing down, physically. I just hope that I don't embarrass myself, too badly, at the race.

Regardless of how I feel about my conditioning by the end of March, I will go and attempt the course. I have challenged myself to it, and (barring injury), I plan to give it my best shot, whether I succeed at completing it, or not.

The C.O.G.-100 is an actual challenge, not a foregone conclusion for me. And, that's why it's important to me.

Wish me luck ... I need it!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Busy 10 Days

Over a few rides, week before last, I started to notice a problem with throwing the chain on the single speed Beast. I finally realized that I need to modify the dropouts on the frame, so that I can use the quick-release axle length, without the axle flexing in the non-drive dropout. I can do that, and eventually will, but I need to concentrate on training, right now, not fabricating bike parts.

So, in light of that, I pulled the trigger on a Bikes Direct Deadeye Monster single speed fat bike for $399 (thank you PayPal Credit). I had been eyeing them, for a while, but didn't feel justified in buy-in one until an actual need for it arose.

I swapped over the cockpit setup from the Beast and temporarily swapped the seat post and seat from the racing bike (they are both 27.2mm internal diameter seat tubes).

Here it is, shiny and new, last Friday

I like the orange paint, and the rims and tires are the same as those on the Beast, so the transition was not too jarring. Both the front and rear hub spacings are 135mm, so I might eventually relace the front rim onto a single speed hub so that I can swap them out, if the need arises on the trail.

The next day, I did a 30 mile ride on the Highline Canal Trail. We had experienced a few warm, sunny days, and a lot of the snow had melted from the trail, leaving some pretty long stretches of deep, sandy mud.

Judging by how muddy the bike and I got, with fenders installed, I shudder to think what it would have looked like if I had left them off. I have a down-tube splash guard coming, from eBay, to try to alleviate some of this, in the future. And, I repositioned the rear guard in an attempt to keep some of the mud and water out of my jersey pockets and shorts!

The next few days were a wash for training. My band played a pre-game show before the Super Bowl, down at Englewood Tavern, and we had a show at the Lion's Lair on Tuesday. So, I couldn't even ride back and forth to work, in order to get some pedal-spins in.

On Wednesday, we had a severe enough snowstorm that we were sent home early, from work. It took me an hour and a half to drive 12 miles...

The next day, I was still wiped out from the previous weekend, and a bit down in the dumps from some of the personal things I went through in January. So, I took the day off work, but only managed to ride to the coffee shop and back on the Winter Commuter, with the studded tires. I was not happy with myself, but it was just how the day went.

Friday dawned cold, but sunny, and I suited up for a ride on the new snow. I pushed it hard for 10 miles, then turned around and headed back. I kept my heart rate up, and got in some pretty good strength training.

I had added a water bottle/snack carrier to the bike, which made hydration and fueling a lot easier. I think I'm going to get another, and have two on the race bike.

I came home a lot cleaner from this ride that I had from the previous Saturday's ride!

I was pretty happy with my performance on Friday's ride, but I was getting a bit worried about my endurance. The only training I have been able to get in has been in the form of relatively short (20-30 miles) high-effort snow rides on a mostly flat trail. The constant snow storms have really limited my ability to get out for longer, hillier efforts.

But, after the sun and warmer temperatures of Friday, I decided to take the race bike out and try to do a long loop on the bike trails around town, Saturday morning. The bike trails are typically plowed, and I figured that the sun would have mostly cleared off the layer of snow which the plows leave behind.

So, yesterday, I left the house at about 9:00 A.M. on the racer. It was really sketchy, getting out of my unplowed neighborhood, but I made it to the Cherry Creek Trail without incident. Heading south, I was happy to see that my assessment of trail conditions had been good, and the pavement was mostly dry. Until, that is...

I crossed into Cherry Creek State Park, where no trail maintenance had been performed! This was rough, and icy, and caused me to crash at one point. Luckily, I was being super cautious and going slow enough that I was able to get clear of the bike and land on my feet as the bike went down.

The entire distance across the park was like this, and it was the only stretch I encountered on my entire ride, where the trail was not plowed.

Eventually, I got past the park, and was able to pick up my pace, again.

I followed the CCT to the E-470 Trail and turned west. I rode along 470 until I got to Chatfield State park, and turned north on the South Platte Trail, which I followed to Evans Avenue. (Somehow, I rode right by the turnoff which would have taken me to Dartmouth Street, as I planned.)

From there, I zig-zagged through the neighborhoods to Kaladi, where I stopped for coffee and a snack before riding the final two miles to my house.

I don't yet have the cyclometer on the racer, so I don't know my mileage, for sure. As near as I can figure, it was somewhere between 50 and 60 miles of riding, in 4 hours and 45 minutes, to Kaladi Brothers.

One of the things I was interested in finding out was just how long I would be comfortable on the bike. At about the 4-hour mark, I began to feel it, pretty badly. I was pretty bummed by that, as I need to have the capability of staying in the saddle for, at least, twice that long in order to be confident of finishing the C.O.G.-100.

Today, though, I feel a bit a better about it. I found some good info about training with low-carb intake, a method known as "Training Low". Some people do this as a way to train their muscle tissue to uptake carbs more readily, when they are available. According to what I read, though, this will bring on fatigue a lot more quickly. A 3 hour low-carb intake ride can bring on the same fatigue as a 5 hour ride with normal carb intake.

I was still experimenting with eating low-carb on the bike, yesterday, and I think that affected me. I am going to experiment, on upcoming rides, increasing my carb intake to match the effort and duration of that particular ride.

So, on a bike commute day, I might ingest 50g of carbs rather than my normal <35g .="" 100g.="" 85="" a="" and="" approximately="" day-long="" endurance="" high-effort="" maybe="" on="" ride="" short="" to="" up="">100g, as needed. But, I will still keep my calories in a reasonable zone. I'll just reassign the percentages of fat vs. carbs.

On rest and recovery days, I'll stick to the Keto diet I have been following, since last July. I find that I feel good on that diet, and I stay satisfied.

I'm having to get all scientific on this, as I only have 51 days until the race. Of those days, I am out of town 4 of them, for work, and I am sure things will unexpectedly interrupt my training schedule. Therefore, I have to optimize the time I train, as well as I can!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Three-Hour Tour

Yesterday, I installed a cyclometer onto the Beast so that I could more easily keep track of how long I ride on my training runs. Of course, it also allows me to watch my average speed, and whatnot, as well.

I left the house a little after 12:30, which was a about an hour later than I wanted to leave. But, of course, the installation of the cyclometer pickup was problematic, on the fat wheel and fork, and it took me a while to get everything working.

I ended up using a wine cork, trimmed to fit, as a spacer to get the pickup close enough to the magnet.
Once that was done, and the wire was routed (I still prefer the wired version to the wireless, because I'm old...) I was ready to roll.

After I got the bike ready, I changed clothes and took off. Once again, I rode over to the Highline Canal Trail, and headed west. This time, I watched the cyclometer and just rode until I had been riding for an hour and a half. At that point, I stopped and checked my mileage (15.06 mi.), then turned around and headed back.

The return trip took an additional nine minutes. This was due to not only the fact that it's slightly uphill on the way back, but I was really feeling the effort in my quads. Fifteen miles of pretty much nonstop pedaling, mostly in snow and mud, on a single speed fat bike will do the to you.

My quads were burning, before it was over.

I stopped here on the way out, and the way back, to eat some almond butter and drink water. This is on the way back.

New pedals. These are really grippy, and I had to pay attention to how I oriented my feet, because it took some effort to change, as I was rolling.

I'm feeling pretty good about how my training is progressing. I am taking a rest day, today, and plan on hitting it hard, again, tomorrow. The temps were in the 40s, today, and are supposed to reach the mid-50s, tomorrow. So, I may take the race bike out and hit the paved trail for a big loop to see how the setup suits me. If not, then I'll do a repeat of this ride.

Sixty three days to go until the COG 100...


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Racer, The trainer and the Sore-Legged Rider

Yesterday, I realized that all of my parts had come in, and I was able to build the Racer up, for the COG100 race. I decided to bring the frame and work-stand in, along with the necessary tools, so they could warm up while I was out on my training ride.

Before I put the frame in the stand, I figured I should swap out the seat posts, and put the SunTour suspension post in. Once I did that, it only made sense to install the seat into the clamp. Then, I was curious how the post felt, so I put the cranks on. But, before putting the cranks on, I thought I should go ahead and remove the two chainrings I didn't need...

One thing led to another, and I ended up building the bike, completely, before jumping on the Beast and heading for the snowy trail. It was late enough that I cut my training ride short, to one hour, to avoid running out of daylight and dealing with falling temperatures.

It was about 60 degrees, when I was riding, and the sun was out. So, once I got home, I was a muddy mess from riding across the melted stretches of the trail.

This is the suspension seat post I plan on using. I think it will be beneficial. I hope the neoprene cover keeps the dirt and grit out...

The 22-tooth cog and sliding dropouts...

Here are a couple of shots contrasting the training bike (Beast) and the racing bike (Racer).     26x4" tires, compared to 700x45c ... Switching to the smaller tires for the race should be a boost.

It was cold and windy, today. The bar mitts were nice, under the conditions on the trail.

Today, the temperature while I was riding hovered right around 30 degrees, about 30 degrees colder than yesterday. This is how the weather is, a lot, here in Denver. The wind was howling, and the 45 minutes I rode into it, on the way home, increased the training value of the ride. My legs are sore, and so are my arms, just as they should be after a good mountain bike ride!

I'll be commuting by bike, when possible, after I go back to work, tomorrow. If I can't, due to scheduling, I'll bust out the rollers and get some butt time in the saddle that way. The race is only 67 days away, and I have a few days out of town for work coming up in March. So, I have to get the most done, every day that I can squeeze in.

I'm also working through how to race an endurance race without going totally off of the Keto diet. I ate too many carbs when I was in Memphis, this past weekend, and it kinda made me feel crappy.  I know I'll have to up the carb intake, somewhat, but I just don't want to overdo it.

That said, I'm feeling pretty good about how the training has gone, so far. I just hope that I can keep it up, consistently.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Almond Butter Band

I went out, once again, on the single speed fat bike, today. Twenty five miles, two thirds of which were on the snow and mud of the Highline Canal.

I was pretty pleased that I was able to do another ride like this, the day after having put one in for the first time in probably a year and a half. It was a good ride, in the best of wintertime conditions. The skies were mostly sunny, the temps were in the mid 50s, and there was little wind.

I will have to skip riding, these next few days. I am going to Tennessee to take care of some family business. When I get back, I will have a couple of days off. I hope I can get another couple of good rides in before I have to return to work.

It's a long, hard row to hoe when you are trying to regain your fitness, with a relatively short deadline. It is only 73 days until the C.O.G. 100 race, and I am in need of some gumption.

Hopefully I can find it!

One of my challenges is figuring out to fuel myself while maintaining a relatively low carbohydrate input. I filled my goo flask with Almond Butter, and took it with me today. I liked the taste and the texture, as I rode. And, the Almond Butter seemed to fuel me up, pretty well. But, it was hard to squeeze the stuff out of the flask.

I ordered some packets of Almond-Butter-based fuel, the other day, and it arrived, today. It looks like it might do the trick. It comes in a disposable flask, and has coconut butter and chia seeds, plus some other stuff, in it to thin it down, add calories and also make it a bit more well-rounded, nutritionally. I hope it works out well to eat it as I ride.

In the meantime, more bike parts hit the porch, today. My single-speed cog and spacers came in, for the racer. And, single-speed chainring bolts. The inner tubes also arrived, today. The new seat post should be here within the week.

I'll start building the bike when I get back into town. But, I will continue training on the fat tire bike. The added resistance should speed up my training and lead me to fitness a bit quicker than the normal bike would.

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Good Ride

A muddy mountain bike is a happy mountain bike.

Today, I took a longer training ride (about 25 miles), at a slightly lower pace than the last two. I wanted to get some miles in, but not burn myself out for tomorrow. 

Most of the trail was snowpacked, but the sun had melted the snow, in places. That's why my bike is muddy.

It was a beautiful Winter day, and the sun was so intense that I was pretty lightly dressed. This is one of the the things that, even after living here for 26+ years, amazes me about Denver. It's never this comfortable in the middle of Winter in West Tennessee...

Part of my ride was on packed single track trail, along the course of the Highline Canal Trail. This is the kind of stuff I built the single speed fat bike for.

My glasses were so dark from the sun that I could barely see my phone as I was taking pictures.

Once I got home, I sat in the sun and enjoyed the warmth in my front yard. It was a good day, and I feel like I got some decent saddle time in.

I need to do it again, tomorrow.


C.O.G. Blogging Beats

Wow, it's half a month into 2019, and I finally got around to making a blog post. I know that blogging is becoming more and more archaic in the Social Media Age (a thing which I have bemoaned on occasion, here), but it still is the best medium for some forms of discourse.

For the next couple of months, I'll be posting about the lead-up and preparations for an event in which I'll be participating. If someone does happen to read it, that will be very cool. If not, I have a record of this for myself.

If you look at the blogroll on the right-hand side of the screen, you will find a listing for "Guitar Ted". Mark, the real guy behind "Ted", was the co-originator and Race Director of the Trans Iowa gravel race for 14 years. This past year, he announced that the Trans Iowa (a 300+ mile race on gravel roads) was done, and he would be moving on.

Shortly thereafter, he floated the idea of a 100 mile, gravel road race, for single-speed bikes. This was dubbed the C.O.G. 100 (Creatures Of Gravel). The details can be found here, if you want the specifics. In short, it is an unsupported (no aid stations, etc.) 100 mile race outside of Grinnell, Iowa, on an unmarked course. Navigation is by old-school cue sheets, and there is only one resupply opportunity on the course (and one slightly off-course).

GT's description:

Course Update: I have re-routed the course to avoid a bridge that we discovered was out during recon a week or so ago. The mileage will be 111.87 miles. There will be an option to hit a convenience store at Mile 43 where you could leave the main course, and take a little over two mile detour to a convenience store. So, out and back to the course again you're looking at almost 5 bonus miles to make a pit stop. That would bring your total to approximately 117 miles for the day, barring any off course mistakes, etc...

Otherwise you'll have to pack water and food to make it to Mile 87 where there will be a convenience store just a few paces off the route. That will be a store that is pretty obvious as you are riding along, so there shouldn't be any issues finding it. But, those are the only suggested resupply options. Remember- There Will Be NO AID STATIONS- NO OUTSIDE SUPPORT ALLOWED- YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! 

Considering the fact that I haven't ridden a bicycle in a serious manner for the past couple of years, this race presents me with a real training challenge. From the time I signed up, until Race Day, is only a span of 78 days (74, as of now). There is a day's worth of travel to get to Grinnell, from Denver, and I have a four-day trip out of town coming up, this week. Recovery days and other extenuating circumstances will probably also come into play, so I have to make my training count.

That said, I went out for some snowy training rides on Saturday and Sunday of last weekend. The picture at the top of the page is from my Saturday ride. I didn't go far, but I went hard, on a relatively high-effort bike on snow and ice. So, I got a good workout.

This picture is from Sunday's training ride. You can see a theme developing...

In addition to getting myself in shape, I have to build a bike for the race. as well. I am utilizing my old alloy 29er frame, with sliding dropouts, to build up a bike that I hope will be the most appropriate bike for this. Parts are trickling in and, once it's complete (or close to it), I will post about the build. In the meantime, I am agonizing over the gearing, since the course is said to be quite hilly, with numerous steep rollers.

That kind of terrain is not my favorite, to be honest.

So, I have to try to gear the bike low enough for short, steep hills, and high enough for the downhills and flats. At this time, I am leaning toward a gear in the 58-62 gear-inch range. I don't want to be so slow on the easy parts of the course that I have to spin my legs off to make the cut-off time (10 hours), but I don't want to blow my knees out on the climbs, either.

Here is a short list of the challenges involved, as I see them, and subjects of upcoming posts:

1. Physical fitness and ability to sit in the saddle for 100 miles (That is something which was once routine to me!)

2. Building up an appropriate bike

3. Gearing the bike correctly

4. Clothing - Weather at that time of year is highly variable in that part of Iowa!

5. Fuel - I have been following the Keto Diet since July of last year, with a weight loss of 35 pounds. I will have to modify that, somewhat, to engage in endurance cycling. But, I don't want to go completely off of the plan. 

6. What to carry on the bike, and how - This is actually not as big a challenge as some of the others, due to my experiences riding numerous solo, mixed-terrain centuries, a few years back.

I have a reserved hotel room for that Friday and Saturday night, in a hotel just a couple of miles from the Start/Finish, and I have the CRV in which to make the trip. I'm hoping to get Brad to go along as moral support/emergency extraction (in case of a DNF - the organizers are not offering any aid, at all, as part of the challenge). If he can't make it, I have a short list of other candidates to ask.

I don't want to make this too post darn long, plus I need to get out on a longer, lower-effort ride today. So, I'll end this here, for now.

More to come...


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