Sunday, November 27, 2011

Training - In Maine, In Snow, On a MTB

A few things I relearned Friday:
1. "1/2 inch down and 1 inch over" doesn't necessarily mean it's just a few miles.
2. Android GPS Google Maps doesn't have scale. In other words, it's impossible to tell what "1/2 inch down" means.
3. If the town where you started riding suddenly disappeared from the map, it's a hint that the scale has just gotten to "you should zoom in now".
4. If it takes over 1.5 hours to ride the 1 inch to the left, the 1 inch up and 1/2 inch over will take another 2.5 hours or so. If you have 1.5 hours of daylight left this is a problem.
5. The mountain bike is a bit slower than the road bike.
6. When I realize I've hit the wall and call the Missus, and she's trying to call you at the same time because she realized I've hit the wall...

A corollary:
I have a great Missus. She eliminated the "2 hours of daylight I didn't have" quandary by driving out and picking me up.

All these significant statements requires some explanation.

First off, yes, like the title says, we were in Maine. We were visiting the Missus's Mom and Bob, up at their palatial digs in rugged LL Bean part of Maine. We're not talking the quaint "let's go shopping at the mall" Maine, or the "Let's camp out for Black Friday" Maine.

We're talking the rough and tumble, shoo the chickens out of the way when you walk out the door, the "Can you move the .410 slugs so I can put down the coffee?", the "Are the guns away?" kind of Maine.


That kind of Maine.

It all started on Wednesday when we set out for the drive. It's not bad if you're just going to Portland, but to get to, um, "that" part of Maine, at least the wimpy bit of the rough Maine (I'm too wimpy for the really rough bits of Maine, where breakfast is what you shot that morning), well, Portland is just past halfway there.

Of course another tough storm threatened the area, the Maine area in particular. Down here it was supposed to rain three inches. Up there?

It was bad enough that even the tough Mainers closed down a lot of stuff. We joked that they'd think it was just a dusting, but when Mainers close down schools, for the whole day, by 7 AM, you know it's serious.

And how did we know they were closing schools by 7 AM?

Because, believe it or not, we hit Portland at about that time. That means we left at, right, about 3:30 AM.

Laden with supplies (okay, maybe not, but we felt like we should bring flour and other things that the supply wagons brought to the wild west outposts), we had set off at oh-dark-o'clock.

With the Red Car II shod with brand new aged (I'll explain at some point; suffice it to say that car tires are marked with their manufacture date) snow tires, we made great time in the heavy rain that accompanied us from home. I only felt the tires do a little "wha?" twice, and that was in a row, two stripes of water running across the highway, while doing the "speed limit plus ten" speed.

In Portland we optimistically called the Maine Outpost to report that we'd just gotten past the halfway point, that we'd be seeing them, based on the scarily accurate GPS, about 9:42 AM.

(We fudged - we'd make a couple pee stops so we said it would be more like 10-10:15 AM).

Then reality struck.

Or rather, the rain changed into sleet.

"I don't think that's rain anymore."
"What? No, that's rain."
"Look. It's splattering when it hits the windshield."
"Oh. Look. It's starting to stick."

In about 4 minutes we called the Outpost back.

"We're gonna be a bit late. It's all snow now. No, really. The trees are white! I know, I can't believe it either. I think we should be there at noon maybe."

(GPS was already wondering who the wimp was behind the wheel - it was me - and our ETA quickly flew forward into the 11 o'clock ETA range.)


We passed a lot of spun out cars, a couple spun out trucks, and plodded our way north.

After almost 12 hours, sometime after 2 PM, we arrived, tired and a bit stunned, at the Outpost.

"You're the first ones here. The others should be here at 9 or 10 tonight."

I promptly took a nap.

I woke up to the sound of talking, headed down for some family time, and at some point called it a night.

The next day dawned bright and clear, the storm a memory past. I checked out the situation with the cars a bit closer.

Snow tires, outside side out, performed wonderfully.

The newly mounted snow tires (Pirelli Sottozero 240s, 225/45-17), after just 6 or so miles of test driving around town on Tuesday, made the half day trip north easily the following day.

You get an idea of the amount of snow we encountered, about 6 hours of steady storm.
On a related note I wonder how the Maine police deal with bank robbers in the winter. No visible plates.

I gathered myself inside and got some coffee from the Missus. My eyes caught something holiday-red sitting on the shelf. When I inquired, I got the answer.

".410 slugs. Less recoil than the 30-06."

Sigh. Such beautiful holiday decorations.

A more business-like item, the aforementioned 30-06. I think there were two in the house.

I headed out of the house to play with some of the kids, guinea hens scrambling out of the way.

Guinea hens.
They look like chickens Darth Vader would raise.

The guinea hens had been roosting outside, refusing the heated shelter on offer just a few yards away. Maybe the more normal looking chickens made them self conscious, I don't know, but for whatever reason the grey hens were outside the whole time.

The standard morning routine for some of the guys (equipped with snow gear) was to gather hunting sticks (aka rifles) and head out.

"I'll be back."

They're return a few hours later, empty-handed. I think hunting is more like fishing, it's really a time to hang out, talk, and trudge around in the woods for a while. It's kind of like going for a long training ride with a couple friends - there's some unspoken communication, a bonding if you will, without much official or measurable transactions.

Trudging back.

Ultimately, through all of this tough living, I went for a ride. I brought my mountain bike, thinking it'd be the appropriate one. I figured that at worst I could venture down some half frozen logging trail, follow some deer, something like that.

Best would be a road ride.

I should point out that although I like this bike, I haven't maintained it much. It still has a broken spoke in the rear wheel (I got it like that, maybe 8 or 10 years ago?). It still has just one usable chainring, the big one; the other two are too bent. The brakes are pretty worn. The front shock is useless, fully compressing almost immediately. The tires have steel beads so they weigh about 1.5 pounds each.

But the bike has its strengths too. It has a set of widely spaced gears (usually too much of a jump at one time, but I could live with that) so I can ride around with just that one chainring. It has my absolute favorite seat for a mountain bike, the old Concorde-like nose WTB saddle. I put full fenders on at some point which are great for inclement conditions.

I hadn't ridden it in so long that before I put the bike in the car I pumped up the tires, just in case they were bad. The Missus had to remind me to toss some pedals on the thing - I'd stolen them off the mtb to equip some other thing, and now they had to go back (Look Keo Classics - road pedals).

At the time I also tossed in my totally full gear bag, with everything and everything in it. I wanted to be prepared.

Luckily for me, the weather turned around and cleared up nicely for Friday, the day after the big feast. 40-something degrees, sunny, and not that windy.

Fully fueled from a huge dinner ("I've never seen you eat that much"), a few glances at a map online (in the house we had just one computer that was internet browsable, with a couple very slow-connection smartphones), and I set out for what I hoped would be a 2 hour ride. I wanted to get a bit fatigued, get that "hey I feel good" feeling, then ride that out until I faded. Such a ride would usually take me 1.5-2 hours for the first part, transition to the second part, then do another 1.5-2 hours before I faded.

The last time I did a ride outside I rode with a teammate, a good two hour ride. I got to the point where my legs just started to come around when we finished up; this time I wanted to push through that barrier.

With just a two or so hour ride ahead I decided to skip any food or water. My last ride I skipped both and it had lasted two hours. After much more food, a lot more rest, I figured that I'd be safe without food/water for a two hour ride.

I set off, ominously almost falling in the deep snow in the driveway, but okay once I got on the drying pavement.

Kind of dry pavement. It got better.

The first few slush ridged made me thankful for my full fenders, a mod I made a few years ago when I rode a few times outside in inclement weather. The tires gave that reassuring SUV feel, letting me daydream until I ran off the road a few times.

I headed southeast on 170, aiming to make a left on a Molly-something road, then a right at a T, then a right onto 169, then a right back onto 170.

Route 170. Slushy snow and an occasional logging truck going 60 mph.

After a bit I came to basically a T intersection, Routes 170 and 6. Glancing at my smartphone (GPS working fine but no signal for phone use), I saw that my short jaunt had taken me about 1/2" down the map on the phone screen. If I went right on Route 6 I'd have about an inch to get to Route 2. Another inch took me north on 2 until 170, and less than half inch brought me home.

In my somewhat befuddled state, I forgot that the stretch on 170 from 2 to home was almost 9 miles.

Which meant that the bit on 6 would be close to 20.

Totally oblivious to this, I took the right on 6 and headed west.

I noticed the wind right away. I thought about a post on BikeForums, someone asking what to do when faced with a headwind.

"Tough it out," I thought back then.

I did what I thought I should. I toughed it out.

Wind means windmills. Or rather windmills mean wind.
Note the nice condition shoulder.

I did have a glimmer of hope - if the wind didn't change, the slightly left headwind would turn into a tailwind on Route 2. That meant some nice riding for the inch up Route 2.

It took me about a minute longer to grasp the other course difference. Unlike the flat-rolling 170, Route 6 did a lot of up and down. I learned after the ride that the locals call it the Airplane Road because you feel like you're in an airplane constantly climbing or descending.

For a guy on a mountain bike, this was the Purgatory. The road tested me. I slogged over the hills, trying not to gear down too much. I found my second set of legs and started pushing hard (for me). I knew that I had to get to Route 2, then to Route 170, all before about 3:30 PM. I'd left past 11:30 AM, so I had only 4 hours total, and... well, I realized that I was going to be out for a bit more than 2 hours.

The sun looked threateningly low in the horizon, and Route 6 just would not end. This hill, that curve, another descent, and yet another climb, and still no signs of an impending intersection with Route 2.

At some point something twanged and pinged on the rear wheel. I looked down and the 31 spoke wheel, already a bit wobbly, looked positively pear shaped. I could hear some clinking and plunking but since nothing seemed to be failing more, I kept going.

Eventually those noises went away.

(And to be totally honest I never checked what happened. Whatever happened is still like that.)

I started thinking about when I'd have to call the Missus. I realized at about this time (when I had a lot of alone time to think about things) that I had about 9 miles to go on just 170 alone, and I also realized that when we drove up Route 2 to 170 that it took us an hour or so.

This meant that the inch on Route 2 was probably 20 miles, which made the inch on Route 6 another 20 miles.

20 miles which for me on a mountain bike would be about 1:30 by itself. Another 1:30 for Route 2, and 45 minutes of panic-stricken riding would get me to home base.

With the sun so low, I mentally moved my panic-stricken riding ahead of schedule. I'd race for the 2/170 intersection and hopefully meet help there.

I turned onto Route 2. The wind shifted as I hoped, pushing me along. I tickled my top gear, the much flatter terrain really helping.

Then, riding along next to some railroad tracks, my legs suddenly switched off. I struggled just to turn over the pedals.

I was cooked and I knew it. I think you could have heard my legs explode about 20 miles away, it was that bad.

I pulled over. I'd have to ask the Missus to not only drive all the way down 170 but also south on 2. I was a long way away from 2, probably a half inch, so about 18 miles of driving, half hour or so.

When I unlocked my phone I saw that I had absolutely no signal.

In situations like this you can't complain, you can't argue, you can't do anything but harden up and keep going.

I wasn't going to go stupid though, I got going while I thought about things. I'd push forward on this flatter section until I could see more of the surrounding hills. If a cellphone tower sat on such a hill, I could get a signal.

No dice.

My next thought was to get to the top of a small rise. Cell towers work on line of sight so a hilltop would be the best bet for a good signal.

I crawled to the top of the next climb, stopped, and checked the phone.

2 bars.

I rang the Outpost.

On the first ring the Missus picked up.

"You're alive."
"Yeah. Um, can you pick me up?"

I told her where I was, and we both figured it'd be about 17 miles to get to me.

I didn't realize but the Missus could drive about 50-60 mph the whole way, as the speed limits were that high, even on secondary roads.

I set out again, the thought of help sapping any remaining strength from my legs.

I rolled up the biggest hill on Route 2, passing a house surrounded by kids standing around drinking beer.

I looked over at them.

They looked at me.

I'm sure we both thought the same thing.

"Thanksgiving, and you're doing that?"

I didn't make it much further until, to my surprise, I saw the Red Car flying towards me, the front end wiggling as the Missus threw out the anchors.

(Okay, that wasn't accurate, but she did slow might fast, and my mind did see the front end shuddering as if under massive braking. Plus a hatch driving in snowy conditions screams "Rally!" to me and rally cars wiggle under braking.)

I tossed the bike in the back, jumped in the car, and the Missus expertly K-turned and started hauling north on 2.

"I tried to call you about 10 minutes before you called the house. I figured you'd be running out of gas."
"Oh. I tried to call you 10 minutes before but I didn't have a signal."

I thought about that for a moment.

"Waitaminute. You called me when I was trying to call you because you thought that that's when I'd be blown?"
"Yeah," she grinned. "I'm good aren't I?"


We flew home, the Red Car acting just like a rally car on the potholed and dirt covered roads. Okay, the Missus acting like a rally driver, driving along the backroads to the Outpost at top speed.

Once at home I had to share my adventures with the group (12 of us there at the Outpost). The locals (Mom and Bob) filled me in on the details. I'd ridden just under 50 miles on the mountain bike, some hilly stuff, some flatter stuff.

My "one inch" on Route 6 was about 20 miles. The bit down 170 to 6 was almost 13. I rode 11 miles up 2 before I faded hard, and another 4 before the Missus got me. It was 16 miles back to the Outpost.

I staggered around a bit once at the Outpost. The Missus whipped up a plate of awesome, which I downed in about 5 minutes; an hour later I joined everyone for dinner.

And in the middle of the night I got up, starving, and ate cookies, bread, muffins, and drank Coke, juice, and water.

Incredibly, the next day, the day we headed back, I felt fine. No sore legs, a bit fatigued, but otherwise totally recovered.

The Missus asked me how I felt.

"Tired. But if this was California, I'd be doing it again today."

We both grinned.

For us, though, it was time to get home. We did the return trip a bit quicker, stopping to visit the Maine brother and his family. Finally we arrived, well into the night, but with enough time to spot some of the mischief our cats had accomplished during our absence.

I heard the Missus in the kitchen.

"Someone left little tooth marks in the sweet potatoes."

Riley's curiosity teeth marks. She loves sweet orange things.

At least we won't have to poke holes in them.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Training - It's Off Season Alright!

I read a very nice post the other day in Bike Forums. There's a thread on training and such, another one on miscellaneous stuff ("My Twitter Feed"), and a couple more that kind of blend in together in my head. At any rate, after some atrociously pitiful riding on the trainer, I posted something to the effect of "I could finally use something harder than the small ring 23T."

Another member replied "You must have some serious tension on that thing."

Unfortunately, I don't. And that's where this post is heading.

I've been struggling with even the lowest level of training, trying to get the legs to turn over. It feels like I'm "anti-doping" - I have close to zero energy, zero motivation. I explained earlier that I tried to set some lower expectations in 2011, and that this lack of goals led to a lack of motivation, leading to a complete lack of results.

With the help and encouragement of the Missus, I'm trying to get back on track. I've laid off a bit on the bike, fine, but I'm starting to ride it again. I even rode outside recently (it was a nice day), but my planned two hour ride lasted only a bit more than half that, my body exhausted.

It's not like I've been eating just Twinkies and Coke; I've been eating somewhat normally, some food good for me, a little bit that's not that good for me.

I admit I don't sleep enough, probably, but I'm not sleeping any less than I did a few years ago.

My training, though, feels uninspired. I'm not sure what it is, what's changed.

Sometimes I wonder, am I burnt out?

I don't think so. I love riding fast, I love diving into corners, I love the acceleration when I jump.

I think that I'm suffering from "good form withdrawal".

2010 was an absolute banner year. I had some disappointments for sure - I rarely finished a Tuesday Rent race, I had some abysmal Sunday races (especially towards the end, like Fall River), but overall I had a season to die for, at least to me. I rode well in races I normally don't finish, did well in a race with a big to me hill (New London), and did enormous amounts of work in races where I worked for teammates or, in one case, to stay out of danger.

I think I fell into a false sense of security. If nothing changed, I'd be like that for 2011, even with no goals and such. Trouble was that this, of course, isn't the case. Form comes with work, and great form is not only a function of great work, it's also a time-limited commodity - no one can maintain a peak indefinitely.

I spiraled downward in 2011, a few ill-timed illnesses really zapping me in the off season (I was fortunate in the prior 2009-2010 off season). The lower fitness meant I couldn't complete races in the spring, losing me even more training time. This led to a lot of DNFs in the late spring, making me lose even more potential fitness training.

It finished with a weak summer, DNFs all over, and even when I could finish, I had no "moments", no bits in races where I could make huge efforts and recover like it was nothing.

I never earned any form.

When I climbed back on the bike in October I wasn't thinking of doing much. Trainer rides to me consist of spinning the small ring to get started, churning the big ring once I feel warm. I so rarely use my lowest gears that I usually have to stop and adjust my derailleur when I go out to California - the first half mile climb usually forces me into my bottom gear, a 39x25, and I'd hear the derailleur pinging away at the spokes.

"Right," I think, "I haven't used that gear since... I don't remember when."

I'd climb off the bike, tighten the limit screw a bit (sometimes a lot), and it'd be good until the following year.

Well, last month I realized that the low gear (a 44x25 right now, only because the only non-worn rings I had left were a 55x44 combo meant for the tandem) was about the only gear I could turn.

I spent the whole hour turning the 44x25, and suffering doing it.

After a few rides I felt it possible to turn the 44x23.

One cog to the right.

Of course I'd clack away at the shifter, tossing the chain into a huge gear like the 19 or 17, but after 10 or 20 seconds, when my legs started to feel numb, when my breathing got uncomfortably rapid, I'd shift back into the 23.

I found myself doing mini intervals, going hard in the 17 or 19, recovering in the 23 or 25.


Yeah, it was bad. It is bad.

A few nights ago I got on the trainer. I felt pretty good and ventured into "the right range", the harder gears.

I could turn them.

I counted from the 11, incredulous.

11, 12, 13, 14, 15.... I'm in the 15? Lemme count again.

Sure enough, I could turn the 15 over, some effort, but nothing killing me like before.

I rolled along, happy with my bump in form.

I only have speed right now, my SRM harness a mess, my HR straps dead. I figure I'll fix them at some point, but right now the only thing I have is speed.

And the speed, as they say, "She is slow."

My October speeds sound like Tour mountain stage speeds, when they're climbing the early unimportant mountains.

From the middle of October:
13.6 mph
12.6 mph
13.1 mph
13.6 mph

A month later, I was a bit better:
13.8 mph

Then, Wednesday November 16th:
14.4 mph

(November 18th was 13.7 mph)

Wow. I broke 14 mph.

It's a sad triumph, truthfully. But for me it's okay. It's acceptable. I'm seeing an upward trend in speed.

I read today that Thomas Dekker will be racing with Garmin-Cervelo for 2012. He was suspended a couple years ago for blood manipulating (I can't remember if it was EPO or blood itself, but that's irrelevant). Jonathan Vaughters, a strident anti-doper, signed Dekker regardless.

Vaughters said something interesting. He said that as Dekker got stronger, his blood values shouldn't change. That's the sign of a strong racer getting fit naturally.

What Vaughters also revealed is that Garmin-Cervelo has been testing Dekker monthly for 18 months!

Now, I don't get to test my blood every month, but I know that right now I'm bad.

When I read that bit on Dekker, I realized that that's what I wanted to do:

I want to get stronger while my blood stays the same.

Vaughters was saying that good training makes the body better. It says so much in so little. It encompasses weight and FTP and power and endurance and resiliency and handling and cornering and so many things.

I know I'll never be a ProTour racer. I'm not going to earn myself a contract to earn money to race. But I'd like to be a bit more than I am now, to fulfill a bit more of my own potential.

I'm starting to think of ways to attain this goal.

I bought some more cold weather gear, in preparation for a California-less January and February. I've figured out how to recharge the headlight I bought from a local bike shop (I charged it once, used it once, then we used it when we lost power during the Halloween storm).

I even bought non-ventilated insoles, meant to help retain heat in the shoes in cold weather riding.

I have to get some work done on the bikes too. I want to send back the orange Tsunami to get the stays shortened - I still have to box the frame. I need to fix the wiring harness for the SRM, get some new batteries for the HR straps.

I have to glue some tubulars onto my Stingers.

I want to clean up my bike room a bit, maybe even paint it, do the trim (it's a very roughly finished basement room).

I want to be better than I am now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Training - 15 mph and a Coupla Trucks

It seems that when I start thinking "trucks" they appear. I had a very non-eventful ride on my day off, going out at the peak of temperatures, warm enough that I never wore my vest. I had on shorts, a short sleeve and long sleeve jersey, a cap under the helmet, and that's it.

No gloves (couldn't find them), no booties, no neck thing, not even Atomic Balm (I just slathered a thin layer of Vaseline on my legs to dull any biting wind).

I told the Missus I'd be out for two hours, and, honestly, my intent was to do two hours of riding. A savage wind slowed me on the way out (south), draining any reserves I'd thought about saving for the second loop. The tailwind helped, but only barely, and after doing just 7/8 of my Quarry Road loop I was pretty tweaked. My arms, shoulders, legs, they all felt really tired.

Entering town from the south.

The broken trees seem appropriate for the town that suffered almost the longest through the Halloween storm. I had to skirt a lot of branches and such sticking out into the road a bit, not a problem for cars in the travel lane but a minor one for us cyclists on the shoulder.

As I headed into town I saw a nice dump truck pull out in front of me. Heavily laden, it'd have slow acceleration, the multiple wheels offered a great draft, and the solid squareness would offer a nice platform to push off of if I got too close.

(Not that I've ever touched a truck I was drafting, this is a "just in case" scenario.)

Backing off a bit.

I accelerated a bit too hard when I caught up to it and had to back off. Just like in a pack I moved into the wind to slow myself down, then as the truck rolled by me, I tucked back in. In the picture above I'm letting the truck roll past and I'm just starting to move in behind it.

With a 30-35 mph speed limit on the road, and some traffic, it wasn't super fast, but it was fun, let me spin out my legs a bit, and the FedEx guy (who delivers to the store) honked his horn and waved.

I eventually passed the truck at a light, knowing I'd have no chance of catching it when it went past me. The act of passing a stopped "draft potential truck" is an acknowledgement that the draft ain't happening. If I stop behind a draft potential truck then I'm looking for some speed.

Because of the wind and the foreign feeling of being on the road, I felt really fatigued even before the truck. Now, with another loop ahead of me, and an hour on my legs (the loop is 48 minutes when I'm good), I decided to call it a day and head home.

Just before I made the right onto 315 I looked back and saw the most tantalizing sight - another truck, an 18 wheeler (well, 14 wheeler, but it had a long trailer). I signaled that I was going straight, rolled through the green light, and waited.

When the truck went by I jumped hard.

Again, with the truck's limited speed (35 zone, but with traffic), I overshot. I eased, tucked back in, and had some fun.

Moving back.

More settled.

As soon as I blew up I slowed, let traffic by, and turned around.

The final climb, up 315, is my Poggio, the climb before the finishing descent. Normally I roll the big ring up the thing. If I'm feeling good, it's a 53x14 all the way to the stop sign. Not as good, the 53x15, and do the last 30 meters in the 19 or so.

I was really not good at all. I started in the 44x19, went about 1/3 of the way up, then slowed dramatically, struggling to get to the stop sign without going so slow that cars a quarter mile away would get there the same time as me.

Strava has me doing the loop at 16 mph, which is about an average ride for me. I don't know how guys do 20 mph - I rarely break 20 mph on a training ride, but some guys, they can plug along at 21-23 mph all day.

The Missus called when it got a bit darker out. Surprised to reach me, she asked what happened. I told her about the ride, complained that I'm so slow, that I have no power, no strength. I told her how I used to do these super long rides to Kent (from Ridgefield) with John S, before we went to Belgium.

I thought about that for a moment, thought of the time frame.

"I think that was in 1991, so that was 20 years ago."

Holy smokes. That long ago?!

The Missus grinned.

"You know, you ought to think about maybe training with someone in the area, do some of these rides with someone."

I thought about it.

You know, she's right.

So for any of you in the area, Wednesdays and Sundays, time is kind of open, and also evenings (possibly), although those would be more Rails to Trails rides with lights. I'm thinking of riding just the mountain bike (on the road) for now, force myself to pedal more, coast less.

16 mph would be on the fast side, 14 mph on the slow.

Wait, with someone else helping, maybe 16 mph would be average. 18 mph would be fast. 1-3 hours.

I read somewhere that Zone 2 is 70% of your FTP, so my Zone 2 is about 140 watts. I'll push though and do 150 or 160 watts, if that means having a riding partner. Remember, 200 watts is really, really hard for me, as hard as the hardest summer races I've done in the last two years.

Anybody out there want to ride with me?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Helmet Cam - 2011 SoCal Training Camp Hacking Around

I've been fooling around with a few clips, trying to figure out how to finalize them. You know, a long time ago, in English classes, the teachers drilled this concept of a "theme" into my head. First the theme, then the writing.

I hated themes.

But, as time went by, I got used to themes. Kind of like coffee and asparagus, I started liking them as I got older. See, themes tie a work together. Random writing isn't really good unless you want random writing. Random clips, too, don't grab attention, not in the way a clip with a theme collars you.

So, for me, a clip has to have a theme, a concept, some idea or thought I want to get across to the viewer (which, believe it or not, is first me, second everyone else - I make these clips for me).

Once I have a theme the clip pops up shortly after. It's a work of inspiration - most clips get done in a couple days of inspired editing (along with some missed training, missed sleep, and missed time with the Missus).

The race clips are a bit lost right now, with not much direction in any kind of a storyline. A clip that has me just riding around... that's not so interesting. My races, if you've ever watched me race, are usually pretty boring because I sit in most of the time, gritting my teeth, hanging on for dear life.

That stuff doesn't translate well into helmet cam clips.

I had some other clips, those of descents and such, stuff from training rides. My friend Rich tried to do a "how to" bit (how to wipe your tires) but when I tried to aim the camera with my head I aimed it too low. If you want to see a clip of someone's wheels and tires it'd be good, but if you wanted to see how to wipe a tire off while you're riding, not so much.

I've been importing a lot of clips into iMovie, a process which takes a long time for each 3.67 GB helmet cam file. After finishing a slew of them, I started creating projects (i.e. clips) using the imported files, framing out thoughts (themes) using bits of clips to trigger memories or ideas.

Of course some inspiration hit me when I started viewing some of the imported movies, with all sorts of memories triggered by the clips. Cars I'd forgotten about, ride events that escaped me, all restored in vivid, living color.

One result of some of this importing is the following clip, one I kind of threw together as a kaleidoscope of my 2011 SoCal training camp. Although it started as a "How To Trackstand" clip, some other bits I found looking for trackstands made me grin. I found a few things I liked, took some stuff from other projects that wouldn't play out thematically quite right (yet), and tossed in some some random stuff, the stuff that made me smile.

I put those all in a "training camp recap" clip, below. I hope you enjoy it.