Thursday, March 19, 2015

Being slow and getting faster...

I used to think, if I get faster, I'll have more people to ride with. As I improve my riding and overall fitness and power to weight ratio, I am finding that this isn't alway the case.

In the beginning, when I started out, as a beginner I had better fitness and climbing abilities that most of the beginners I raced against. In the "beginner class" for mountain bike racing, you get all kinds of abilities competing together because some of the guys have ridden for a while but never participated in a race, others used to race motorcycles/motocross and others, like me had no previous experience.  So inorder to get a good race result, I had to really rely on my strengths which were not many,  I could not handle a bike very well, so my cornering and my downhill decents were horrible, I had no endurance, but lucky for me the beginner races were not very long.  I realized as a beginner I could climb hills and basically found I could make up for lost time in technical sections by "playing catch-up" on the hills.

Things started to change when I moved up to "Sport Class", there were more experienced racers, many who were in sport class for multiple years by the time I got there, many were not only good bike handlers, they were climbers (some of them anyway) and had more endurance which was needed since these races included at least one extra lap compared the beginners.  So I had to try and get into group rides to try and keep up with my peers, of course many of them were a bit to fast for me.  Even some coaching for a very short time helped by at least showing me why having more than an occassional ride was essential to improving as an athlete.  Within this time frame I started doing a few dirt road / backroad rides with guys that lived near me like Robert Lucia, Jason Melecosky and Paul Bailey.  I could barely keep up if at all so these did not last long for me,  but I did more of these kinds of rides by myself.

Moving up to the "Expert Class", happened after my fitness finally started to improve, but I was still not training with many other riders and my handling skills were still subpar.  I started riding again with guys that lived near me like Jason Melecosky and Paul Bailey, they actually did more than the 2 or 3 laps at the local trails, they would go on what felt like REALLY LONG backroad rides.  WOW,  thats where I felt like I was being drilled like an Army Private in bootcamp.  But this is what it took for me to gain not only the endurance but the sustained efforts that are required for power on the longer climbs.  As a result of doing these, I felt like I could finally keep up with groups of riders who were historically faster riders than I.  It was the TNT rides (mentioned on a previous post), that really started to have an impact on me.  This however took the place of rides I did with others, but I got faster.

Late 2014 to present, I have actually made more improvements.  I am riding with guys who I looked up to (when a ride is organized).  These rides add a certain element of mutual effort/competition, some of this could be due to Strava, or simply racing up a little climbs. I still have to ride to a training schedule so that limits how I ride depending on the day of the week.  Now certain days of the week I am forced to ride alone again, and now with indoor cycling that allows me to use Wattage/Power meter to measure my efforts, I am seeing huge improvements.  I also see improvement on my handling skills as I tested this in Georgia and with the inclusion of a single speed mountain bike I'm learning to be a better rider by being more efficient on the decents as well as be more aggressive on the climbs especially the steeps ones.

Now that I have a structured (still needs some adjustments), I train with a purpose, and sometimes the purpose of a day's ride can result in an exclusion of others, regardless if they are faster, slower or at the same abilities as me.  So getting faster doesn't mean more opportunities for riding parnters, it just means I am getting faster, and if I want to continue with improvements, I have to train for me, and not train for others.  The fun group rides are also important, but they must fit your schedule, not the other way around.

I hope this helps others who are learning like I am.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Indoor spinning

Yes, I have been doing some indoor spinning.  Thanks to Jason B. for inviting me over for some training sessions, I feel that I really have a chance for improvements this season.  I have been working my way up in the wattage,  I cannot say right now what the wattage is, but lets just say its getting up there.  I will let it be a surprise the week before Barry Roubaix Race.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can I make the 500 mile mark by Saturday (January 31st)?

So, this is a new record for me.  The amount of outdoor riding is better than the riding I have done in summer months in previous years.  I am at 435 miles, with really only one more planned ride before the end of month.  If I don't hit that mile marker, its ok,  I have also been doing quality indoor spinning 1 or 2 times a week at the Buccellato training facilities and one easy 30 minute recovery spin at the gym (when I can).  As long as I do not over do it, it looks as if my Barry Roubaix race will be a good one.  March 5th the family and I will head back top Georgia for a week of hill training.  After that I will have 2 weeks to get ready for the race.  The plan this year is to include more Addison Oaks and Stony Creek riding.  Yes, I have a plan, but getting a certain number of miles is not a major aspect of my plan.  Having fun is the first item on the list.

My Strava stats:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Looking forward to looking forward.

2014 was a fun year, I discovered late in the season that I am capable of working harder while having fun. My 2014 Strava story.  I was able to get in just over 4,800 miles! Looking forward to some good things, already in the right direction.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thankful for good riding buddies this year.

I am not very good at keeping up with blogs, beause if I have even 2 people read these, they probably find these posts boring.  But I wanted to mention that the few years I have been racing, I usually rode my bike by myself, and the intensity was usually very low.  Group rides are fine, but its important that you don't allow yourself to be limited by the ride that the group is capable of doing.  I have done group rides that were slow and long on days where I should have rode harder for a shorter distance.  There were group rides that treated the ride as a stop and eat tour type ride.  All group rides have their purpose, but its important you match up your rides with your specific needs and goals.  I decided to do that this year, which is something I have never done before. The reasons for not doing many group rides before are many,  maybe I was too slow for some group rides or I was too fast for others.  Here is an example if what I did this year:

Tuesdays:  TNT (Tuesday Night Taco) ride: 37.5+ miles with 2,000 feet of climbing.  This ride started out moderate, but as the season progressed it would reach fast paces. Rides would include Joe Brzuchanski, Mike Simonson, Jason and Cameron Buccellato, and the pace would be as high as a 20 MPH average!

Wednesdays: Ice Ice Baby ride: 36-50 miles (depending on where one starts the ride).  This ride doesn't start until sometime in at the end of September (I think) and goes until Iceman. It's like a mini-race and at times (on the CRT) scared the hell out of me.  But good for an intense "pissing match", I managed to keep up with the "A-Group" on most rodes.

Thursdays: Thursday Nights @LOHS ride, just a slow first lap and an optional second lap.  This ride can be useful as an interval ride, once the "No Drop" lap is done...  I got in good rides with fast guys on this ride, but many more times the rides were slow.  Thats ok, because not every ride can be a hammer-fest.  I did manage to get in good ride with Christian Tanguy on a Thursday morning, he even insisted on a reverse lap. Other good riders that opted for a fast second lap were good guys like Alex and Greg Schultz, Justin Kreger and Kyle MacDermaid.

Saturdays/Sundays: Saturday Imlay City Taco ride, this can be anywhere from a 55 mile ride, to 85 miles.  Depending on the group, the ride usually never got faster than a 16 MPH pace, but on the longer and warmer days, I would throw in a lap at LOHS or Addison Oaks to finish up the ride.  Also included in this group is the Greg Kuhn Hammer rides.  These rides include two track and single track with dirt roads.  I always felt sore the evening following these rides.   Yes I did a few other rides like Bob's Iceman training rides (one of these), and other George Inghram Epic rides and the O2 Exhale ride (awesome pace).   I also did some rides with other riders, thanks to Jason Buccellato for riding with me on a few rides.  One of these rides was so tough I almost puked when I got home.  This could have been a combination of near dehydration and sheer power output with minimal rest.

...looking forward (after Iceman) are the WRCS rides, these are mostly paved road rides, I hope to continue these this year, with an occasional weeknight ride along with the Saturday/Sunday editions of the ride.

The whole point of this post is to point out the usefulness of group rides.  I used these group rides to force myself to commit to either a distance for that day's ride, or a pace that alone I could not have achieved.  As of this writing, I have in over 4,000 miles and looking to at least get in 4,500 miles before the end of the year.

What I learned this year was from conversations on the rides and the rides themselves.  It sometimes makes sense to ride with other riders.  I hope to do more of this next year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I have my legs back!

Finally after a inactive & miserable winter, I think I have my legs back.  I had a great TNT ride this past Tuesday and just improved my KOM time on the "Dragon Chase" segment at LOHS tonight!

Monday, March 24, 2014

I hope this late start to the season pays off this year...

Last year was a long and tiring season.  It started right after the 2012 Iceman and end at the finish line of the December 8th, 2013 CX race at Addison Oaks.  Then what followed is a first for me in 14 years.  I got the Norovirus around the time of the Oakland County Wrestling Championships (so I missed this), then I got a very bad cold 3 weeks later and this lasted at least 10 days.  After the cold cleared up I had a bad allergy / sinus issue.   Then about a week ago my son and I were wrestling and I believe he either cracked one of my ribs or dislocated it.  So riding has been low on the list of things to do.  I am slowly starting to get back into the old schedule.  I am including some running to help accelerate my fitness and recovery.   I hope to get in a few rides out at Pontiac Lake Rec. Area trail this week.  We will see but I am hoping to do the Pontiac Lake Time Trial and then have my son do the Beginner class race there.