I spend more on bar tape…

…than most women spend on shoes.

I have to preface this with a word of warning- if you are looking for functional bar tape, stop reading now. Go get some Arundel Gecko Grip tape. It has to be, hands down, the stickiest, grippiest, yet just-soft-enough tape that I’ve ever laid hands upon.

However, if you’re looking for hard to install, slippery, and generally non-functional bling that will turn heads (and, more than likely, a few noses), then check out the latest look that the surly is sporting:

Working for a Higher Power

…and I’m not talking about the wattage you sustain during your 40k TT.

This morning I woke up early so that I could get to the weightroom and do some lifting before class. I’m going to begin doing this a couple of times a week in order to maintain my somewhat neglected weight workouts. Since the race season has prettymuch started, my main focus is maintaining the strength I gained during the off-season (mostly before training camp), and to increase my explosive strength. I also do not need to gain more muscle mass (since that’s just more weight I’ve got to haul up the hills).

So, the workouts I choose need to have a large power component- meaning I need to lift heavy things very fast in order to increase the contraction speed (this is different than what most cyclists think of when they’re talking about power). Remember your biomechanics:
Power: how quickly or slowly work is done
P=F*V (power = force * velocity)

Increasing power in this sense will improve cycling skills such as acceleration into an attack or sprint- allowing you to “snap the elastic” between you & your opponents.

For this, I like to use complex training. This is a specific type of training where you combine a high force movement with a high velocity movement in order to take advantage of post activation potentiation (if that’s a bit over your head, just think of when you lift something really heavy then you feel like the next thing you lift is extra light… that’s PAP at work). Today’s workout was a combination of squats and snatches in alternating sets. After a warmup, I did a set of 6 squats (ideally, you do fewer reps & more weight, but, like I said, I’ve been neglecting my weight workouts lately, so I have to start back slowly):

After doing a set, I racked the weight and immediately performed a set of three light snatches:

I did the alternating sets 5 times. The basic thought is that you get potentiation in the muscles during the slow, heavy movement that makes you lift faster when you perform the light, high-velocity movement. This results in an enhanced training effect and BOOM- more power!
Afterward, I did some heavy sit-ups super-setted with reverse hyperextensions. It only took about half an hour to complete the workout, but I think that the exercise choice made it a very effective half-hour in relation to my earlier-stated goals.

Adding to the body of research

At this very moment, I’m being “quarintined” in the cardiorespiratory lab at U of M while I’m participating in a supplement research study for a new diet aid. It involved eating a controlled diet yesterday (consisting of bars/shakes made by the VPX manufacturer), an overnight fast, then coming to the lab for a blood draw, followed by a dose of the supplement or placebo (it’s double blind, so we don’t know which one I took), and a series of vital/metabolic measures (resting HR, BP, and O2 consumption).

My guess is that I took the real thing, based on my appetite loss following the dosage. I’m also pretty addicted to caffiene, and get a headache if I don’t have any… but I’m feeling fine right now! Vital signs say differently, though- my HR has remained close to 40 bpm (one measurement as low as 38!), and blood pressure hasn’t changed much, either. Apparently, some people have had pretty big jumps from baseline in response to the supplement.

I just paused to have another set of measurements/blood draw. That’s 5 now, with 2 more to go… good thing I’m not afraid of needles! This is the type of research that all supplements should undergo- independant lab, strict control, and sound methods. VPX is commendable for putting their product through this type of rigor.

Valley of the Sun Criterium

I woke up feeling like a zombie on Sunday morning. After arriving/setting up, I downed a couple of cups of coffee and got dressed/warmed up. I really like to ride a lap or two of a crit course before the race starts, but that wasn’t an option here. Since the P/1/2 field was combined with the 3 field, everyone was lined up on the sidelines as the preceeding race was finishing in order to get to the prime real estate that was the start line. I’m normally pretty good at this, but today it didn’t happen, and I ended up somewhere in the middle. From the whistle, the accelerator was DOWN.

The first few laps were hell- Ashley and Shannon managed to keep up in the front (Ashley moves like a jackrabbit through a pack!) while the rest of us got strung out down the course as riders in front of us cracked and got gapped. After what seemed like forever, we all managed to catch on. At some point, a rider from another team got away from the pack. Ashley attacked for a lap, but it didn’t stay. Next lap, Shannon attacked (all the while, I’m absolutely dying while trying to move up and feeling like Private “Gomer Pyle” from Full Metal Jacket). This time, Shannon got away, and made the bridge to the other rider off the front!

The other 4 of us got to the front of the pack and made the pace just hard enough to discourage anyone else from trying to bridge. Once I finally made it to the front (thank everything holy/unholy), I went for 3 or 4 laps before finally succumbing to to an attack on the start/finish hill, and hanging on to the back of the pack like a booger for the last 5 laps. It was a heroic effort on everyone’s part, and halfway through the final lap, we heard Nathan on the radio yelling, “HANDS UP, SHANNON, HANDS UP!” I was cheering and celebrating in my head as we rode the last few corners to the finish! Everyone sprinted up the last hill, but I’d been prettymuch redlined for the entire race, so I didn’t really have anything left other than holding my speed out of the corner and up to the finish line.
I actually never even looked to see how I finished- maybe somewhere in the top 30? I’m not too worried about it- I am so happy to end the weekend with a win for the team!

Hopefully some photos will start popping up on the internet soon… I’ll post/link to the as I find them!

Valley of the Sun Road Race

So Casey and I, being the lowest in the GC standings for the team, were given the job of causing some havoc in the first two of three and a half laps (57 miles) in today’s road race. I’d say we did a pretty good job. On the first stretch of crosswind section, we took over the front as a team and guttered the rest of the pack on the yellow line. From there, Casey and I traded attacks. There was one climb on an otherwise flat course, and, though I made it up fine the first time. The next time through the crosswind section, I attacked three times, finally getting away the third time. Casey bridged to me and we traded pulls trying to make it work.

Soon after, we hit the climb. I tried in vain to pull her part way up the climb for a KOM bonus, but I blew up early and went backwards through the pack, and was forced to chase. I made it back on, and managed to work with my teammates once I got there, but each time we hit the climb, I cracked about 1/4 of the way up. Unfortunately, the way the course was set up, the finish line was just close enough to the climb that I was totally useless to my team as a leadout. I’ve got a lot of training to do if I am going to help us get podium spots.

Shannon ended up in 7th, and we all moved up in the GC at least one spot since the woman who was in the leader jersey climbed about as well as I did. All I know is that I am totally exhausted now and hoping that I can do better in tomorrow’s criterium.

Here are a few random photos from before the race started:

Random mountains of area
Random mountains of area

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After trying to van-jack us on the way to the race, the hooligans from Rock Racing came by & stole our Clif bars!
After trying to van-jack us on the way in to the race venue, the hooligans from Rock Racing came by & stole our Clif bars!

Phoenix Pre-Race

This weekend I’m in Phoenix, AZ for the Valley of the Sun Stage Race- debut race for me with MetroVW. I got in yesterday(Thursday) around 10:30, and, after a shuttle trip from the airport, arrived at the hotel just in time to inhale a PB sandwich and change into my riding clothes to head out for some leg-opening. I got to ride my new team bike for the first time as well. The BH frame rocks- it’s a lot stiffer than the Blue Rc7. Something else that’s new is that it’s built with Campagnolo components, which, of course, work fine, though I still have a special place in my heart for the Red group on my other bike.

Anyway- the ride was nice. Once we got back and had some lunch, I hunted down a tape measure so I could make some fit adjustments on my new bike. I also needed to swap the 110mm stem out to a 100mm… though since we’ve got Andrew Gonzales here as team mechanic, I sat back & held faceplate bolts while he did most of the work. I think I’ve got it just about perfect, but I won’t really be able to tell until I ride around on it a little longer this afternoon for the time trial.

I just had some breakfast- a couple of packs of Kashi hot cereal with whey protein and some yogurt w/a spoonful of peanut butter mixed into it. It would have been much more enjoyable if there wasn’t a herd of peewee hockey kids running through the lobby yelling about coffee and waffles while the parents ignored them and made life difficult for the breakfast-bar waitress by switching tables and letting their spawn run through the “employees only” section of the dining area. Then they let their kids monopolize the lobby computers to gawk noisily over god-only-knows-what on ebay. WTF?? Are you kidding me? Other people are hanging around the computer waiting and you’re watching your group of 5 or 6 kids eff around and look at EBAY?!? WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU? WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS OK?!?!

I digress.

It’s time to race. I like that we’re starting out with a time trial, because it’s somewhat lower-pressure than a road race, and will give me a chance to scope out how I compare to the competition. As always… updates will follow.

Tapering…

“In February?!?”

Yes, in February. I’ll be flying out Thursday for my first “big time” stage race- Valley of the Sun in Phoenix, Arizona. I feel ready- on Sunday I could barely contain myself. I took two days off last week and rode easy on Saturday, so I was ready to tear the pedals off of my bike on the group ride. I managed to hold back, though it meant splitting off from the group for a good portion of the outing.

I’m also excited to announce that I purchased a new laptop! It’s a Sony VAIO. My desktop was working OK, but it was very slow and had a tendency to bog down for several minutes at a time. Not to mention, it doesn’t pack too well in my luggage…

My favorite features are the nice, big screen, an ample keyboard area, and most of all, the built-in webcam, which I’ve already used to take random photos like this:

See you in Arizona...
See you in Arizona...