Monday, January 28, 2008

Training - About 4 Weeks Later

A cap with 16 indoor hours of salt, circa January 2008.

Between mid April 2007 and the end of October 2007, I rode about 1108 miles. Since I rode my mountain bike to run errands there might be a few more miles on there. And a lot of those miles were on the trainer, perhaps as many as half of them. At a conservative (i.e. sort of fast) pace of 16 mph, that's less than 70 hours of riding. Since that included race miles (i.e. 28 mph), the 70 hour number would be a high number.

This is not a lot of miles, or hours, in the realm of "bike racing".

My racing, as you might imagine, reflected my racing. At one race, a target race (I pretty much did only target races in 2007), I saw someone who I hadn't seen in a few years. Ends up this is his first year back on the bike after taking a number of years off from the sport. He figured he'd choose an "easy" race to get back into things.

Well, I got dropped in about 10 laps. He placed in the top 10.


I didn't register for any more races in 2007.

Now to be completely truthful, I did have other things going on, like getting married, selling the house, moving, plus all the regular mumbo jumbo with work. I'd get work calls virtually every evening and Sunday mornings and evenings.

On December 6, the work calls came to an end. The missus and I celebrated, she reminded me of my long dormant bike related project, and told me I better train my butt off. So, after a period of reflection, I started training.

I have other projects too. For example, our temporary apartment is a bit less temporary due to the December 6th event, so I spent several hours over a few days clearing out the basement. I eventually created a mini training center in there - the Dungeon.

The various cleaning up things, the Dungeon, and various holiday family functions made my training go on hold until later in December. I started a serious training schedule but by the third day I had to stop. A long-forgotten tendon injury resurfaced (it only does that when I start training hard, and it last happened in something like 2001). I was in some intense agony for a few days, but from past experience (and a doctor's visit when it first happened), I knew that once it healed, I'd be okay.

It took another week to get used to the saddle. My body had forgotten about that part of the bike, and the 2 and 3 hour rides were quick in reminding it what it has to endure. The appropriate parts of my body quickly toughened up and I was good to go.

Of course, by then, it was January 2008. Time flies, doesn't it? Since then, it's been better.

I have a loop I did when it was a bit warmer - it takes about an hour, isn't very hilly, and has reasonably shoulders where there's traffic. It took me about an hour to do it when I first moved here, about 57 minutes on my road bike, clad in shorts and a short sleeve jersey.

On one of the January rides I did it in 57 minutes on my mountain bike. 2.1 inch knobbies, suspension fork, three big batteries for lights, fenders, etc., and while decked out head to toe in heavy winter garb.

And a week later, after doing a very hilly 2 hour loop to start things off, I did it (on my road bike) in 52 and 55 minutes. I was getting a bit tired on the second loop - after 3 hours of riding my body starts to shut down a bit. I wasn't trying to go too hard though - on most of the flat bits I was going about 18-20 mph

That day I felt like I could roll over some of the little rises where I previously bogged down, shifted down, and slowed down. Now it was a few brisk pedal strokes and I was over the rise.

Normally I feel like this in, say, mid-February, during my somewhat annual West Coast training camp. But a steady diet of two hour or longer rides has started to pay off and it seems I'm getting a bit of a head start this year.

A friend Rob has a great theory on losing weight. Since a pound of fat is about 3000 calories, and cycling burns anywhere from 500-1000 calories an hour, a pound of fat is equal to 6 hours of riding (figuring you're going easy and as long as your diet stays relatively similar). Granted, many of my rides are over the 500 cal/hour mark, but not by much, so I figure this is a good number to use, conservative, won't get my hopes up.

My goal, then, was to ride about 8-10 pounds worth in January, or 48 to 60 hours (6 hours per pound). I don't know what happened but the hours thing didn't happen. Well, it partially did, but not all the way. I'm still working on my hours but I won't be close to 50 hours, at least I don't think so. My weight dropped more than the 6 hours per pound but it didn't reach my goal number. Although it's dropped a bit, it's probably 10 pounds less than my December weight of 185-187 at best. It's probably more like 7 pounds for the month since my current weight is about 175-176.

Efficient, I know, since I lost the weight at less than 6 hours per pound.

Unfortunately, for those of you who know me, you know that 7 or 8 pounds isn't going to cut it - I'm only 5'7" after all. It needs to be 15 pounds down (170) before I get to decent shape, 20 pounds (165) before I'm flying - I can win at 165. Anything under 160 would be a dream - we're going back 10 years now, and at that time I could race pretty well.

In other words, I'd like to drop another 10-15 pounds or more.

To be fair, I've been doing some aggressive weight lifting. Although most bike racers skip the upper body stuff, I find it benefits my sprint. Severely weakened in the last five years, my main goal in 2008 is to regain my sprint form. For me this means getting lean and strong. The hours on the bike gets me the lean part. Lifting gets me the strong part. I've already noticed an increase in strength, and I hope that I can continue the trend for another month or two. After that I'll be happy maintaining what muscle mass I gained.

Key word being "gained". When I started lifting I noticed my weight stabilized and then increased a pound or two. I hope that it was muscle, and since muscle takes more calories to maintain than fat, I hope that ultimately the increased muscle mass translates to a lower level of body fat.

Of course this means I have to keep training. Last week was a disaster from that training point of view. Slightly ill, I couldn't risk too many hours. I want to be good when I arrive on the West Coast on Wednesday afternoon. If that means losing 10 hours of riding at home, so be it. It seems my body wasn't happy trying to do a third intense week in a row so I let it rest.

With a strong base of riding (and a recovery day or two at the end), I hope to bring some good legs out west so I can move onto doing much more intense work. Two weeks will give me time to do some intense days, a bunch of longer but easier days, and the inevitable rest days. If things go similarly as they did here, it would be realistic to see 30 hours in 13 days (not sure if I'll have daylight on the first or last days). If I can get in a few long days then 30 hours should be pretty easy to hit, and if I manage a bunch of 3 hour days (easy when out there) then 30 hours is pretty conservative.

30 hours is about five pounds, using the Rob Formula. This is okay, not great, not horrible. I guess it'll take a bit more to hit the 165 mark, but if I can return home at 170 (5-6 pounds less than I currently weigh), I'd consider the camp a success. Anything starting with 16x is a triumph.

What is incredible is that 30 hours out west, combined with the hours at home (since December), would equal or exceed my April to November 2007 hours of training and racing. In about seven weeks of training for the 2008 season.

After the West Coast Camp I'll return back home to get re-acclimated to the cold. Two weeks later the racing season will start.

I'm getting a bit nervous thinking about it, even now.


Colin R said...

As someone who will probably end up making an attempted "return to greatness" in my master years, I am enjoying following this. What's the date of your first race, and will the helmet cam make an appearance?

Aki said...

I hope my racing lives up to my training!

March 2 at Bethel will be my first race. Helmet cam should be there too. I hope to do a helmet cam or two out west but it might get boring (climbing really slowly etc). Edited down it might get interesting, esp if there's a group ride. The descending corners are a lot of fun.

Primal said...

Oh the pain and suffering of returning to the saddle to grind away and return the legs to what they once where is something I do every year. My only excuse is loosing my Moe-Joe for training. Winters are mild in Oz and I still call it a day over winter.

Ron said...


I like your modesty. We're afterall, humans. I also like your writing, its in a way really reaffirming your own goals to yourself. Maybe I should start writing on my training too...

I say be optimistic about 30 hours in 13 days, but if it doesn't work out, its not like you can't make changes along the way.