Tuesday, February 06, 2007

California - Pre Tour Medical Checks

So this is like the Tour, again. At least in my fantasy world. Tomorrow I fly out west, assemble my bike, and do Day One of the California Tour (I can't use Tour of California since someone else already took that name). Incidentally my Tour misses their Tour by a day. Shucks.

Because of said Tour, I've been a bit busy the last few days. Work has been very busy and the home front has also been heavily scheduled. My biggest and least forgiving deadline is that I am leaving for California early tomorrow morning. My brother will be at my house at about 6 or 6:30 AM to drive me to the airport so I *have* to be ready then.

My second least forgiving deadline is preparing my beloved VW Passat for its give away - I'm giving it and all of its related parts to my fiancee's best friend's husband (who, incidentally, is a friend of mine). The Passat (and usually my other cars) ended up with a lot of extra parts, sort of like my bikes. Three sets of wheels, two intakes, new brakes, two sets of springs, manuals, so on and so forth. All need to be "staged" for a Saturday pick up. Along with some big tools I haven't used - an engine hoist, engine stand, and a stand alone parts cleaner.

So anyway, I have a lot to do tonight.

For this trip, like Florida, I have to get my various electronic gear bits together. I have most of my electronics from the last trip but am adding a critical thing: the helmet cam.

It's a Canon ZR100 teamed up with the ChaseCam helmet cam (520 lines resolution, the "nice" one) with a new and as of yet not-really-fitting 120 degree wide angle lens. The 92 degree lens is more a "butt and ankles" lens - which is fine for certain types of films but for trying to record a criterium, it's not really what I had in mind. To get more of a "wheels and jerseys" view, I got the 120 lens over the winter. I hope to record more than the 3 or 4 races and one sprint workout I managed last year. If I'm successful I'll be posting links to them here.

I have a new CamelBak HydroPak to carry the kit. I've been using a first generation CamelBak and the skinny straps leave marks on my delicate shoulders. Plus the thing is sort of wiggly due to the bulk and weight of the filled pack. There's a lot to carry - the camcorder, eight AA batteries, and some wires. My helmet carries the actual ChaseCam as well as a "powered mic" which simply means you get lots of wind noise in the background (I'm experimenting with wind muffling foam pieces).

I may experiment and carry actual fluids in my CamelBak and put the ChaseCam and camcorder on my bike but my preference is to load the rider, not the bike. The goal is to tape parts of my rides out there and do a few "touristy" shots (nice vistas, weird things, car accidents, in other words things I saw in previous trips to CA). Mounting the camcorder on the bike will allow me to start/stop it without stopping - with the CamelBak, I have to take the camera out of the bag to start/stop it.

This is the Pre Tour Medical Check post though, not the Electronic Gizmo post. The trip is not so I can tape nice views of some desert valley or the bumper of the truck I'm drafting. It's to try and prepare a normally semi-sedentary body to the stresses of racing really hard in March and April. Hence the "Medical Checks".

I recently bought some fat measuring calipers and a "body measuring tape" for lack of a better term. Basically the two combine to tell you how bad you are in objective terms which dig a lot deeper than the subjective ones. In other words I've thought recently "Wow, I'm getting in shape". I pull out the calipers to verify my subjective claim and the calipers say "No you are almost 19% fat".


Reality bites sometimes, doesn't it?

You know, I virtually threw out one of those electronic scales for saying I was at 16% fat. Maybe I should bring it back. Whatever, the numbers don't lie. Apparently I'm carrying around something like 30-35 lbs of fat. Pretty incredible right? If I can lose, say, half a bike's worth, it'll be great. We'll see though.

My aerobic system is oddly efficient. I cry all the time about my lack of aerobic ability but it has nothing to do with an inefficient cardiovascular system. I've always had a low resting rate, my heart walls are thick enough to raise red flags at physicals, and I have nice big veins that make blood-drawing nurses really happy. It's just that oxygen somehow doesn't get to my muscles. Or I don't have slow-twitch muscles that can use them.

Recently I measured my heart recovery rate over a 60 second period. My heart rate dropped from a very hardworking (for me) 164 bpm to 107 bpm in that minute. So my recovery is reasonably good. Trying to apply what I've learned, I thought of a new tactic to utilize my jump and my recovery. I figure I should sprint-coast-sprint-coast in my races.

Then I realized, "Oh wait, I already do that."

I'm not sure what my resting rate is so I'll have to measure it soon. It should be in the 40's. If it's good, it's in the 30's. 50's means I just drank coffee, I'm nervous, or I'm really out of shape.

Muscularly I think I'm reasonable. I have good knee-cap support (no sore knees after 100 miles), I have some jumpy strength in my legs (I observed this while doing some mini-jumps on the trainer), and I haven't lost much upper body strength (which is absolutely critical for backing up your big leg efforts). And I do a lot of shoulder muscle type exercises to build some padding around my collarbone.

I have a couple goals for this trip. Just like any training ride, I am leaving the house with some goals in mind. These goals define tasks.

First, I want to stay healthy. I have a nasty habit of getting really, really sick when I'm training hard. Last year I slept with a knit hat, long sleeve shirt, long sleeve pj's, socks, and walked around with slippers on my feet. It worked. I'll try and do the same this year.

Next, I'd like to do lose some fat. Long rides do this for me so I decided I want to do at least three Palomar rides. I did one and three quarters last year - I ran out of time so turned around about 5 miles from the summit on one ride, then went back and did it the right way shortly thereafter. I've tried for a few years though and now that I've gotten over that hump, I want to make it my "standard" long ride. The routes range from 92 miles to about 113 miles long. The longer the route, the flatter the non-Palomar bits.

Another thing I'd like to do is be more consistent in my riding. After my fat measuring catastrophe, I've decided to try and ride some of that half-bike off, and that means a lot of miles. Instead of doing an hour on my easy days, I'd like to cruise around a bit more, take in the sites, etc. To help accomplish this, I have a lot of gear so I am dutifully prepared for all sorts of weather.

Finally, if possible, I want to do a group ride that doesn't contain pro women and national level racers. I just get dropped and feel totally humbled. It's a good workout but it lasts, like 2 minutes. If I feel good though, then I'll go for the fast rides.

If you're in the Carlsbad area and want to go for a ride, let me know. I'll be out there.

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