4/26/2011

Ten down, ten to go.


Sunday marked the end of the tenth week of training (by the guide) for Seattle to Portland. For those jumping in on this blog late, STP is the main push behind writing this. It’s giving me a little extra incentive to train better and ride more often.

So far I’ve ridden over 1500km on the road and over 400km on the stationary trainer. That’s not quite half of the 4270km total training kilometres we’re slated to do but we’ve never actually done all the scheduled distances for previous STP training. I’m going to try my hardest to do that this year. While I’m happy with my fitness to this point, I feel like pushing for faster rides. I haven’t really discussed this plan with K & T but I’m sure they’ll be on board. I feel like we’ve spun the cobwebs out and have our road legs back. I think we’re ready to notch it up!

We discussed it a while back and I think we said we want to cut our ride time to 10:30:00 this year. Shit I think I actually wrote that in my first post on this blog. No turning back I suppose. Anyway, that roughly translates to a 31km/h average speed! Some may scoff at our aspirations of school zone speed but it isn’t easy. Last year we averaged 29.3km/h on STP. The year before that was 26.6km/h. Our ride on Saturday was 28.5km/h - the fastest we’ve ever done that route. Rides are tricky to gauge because there’s the traffic factor – you get slowed down through a long enough section and it’ll skew your numbers. I think we worked well together on the last one and really made a good group effort. STP is usually a bit faster because the route is fairly traffic-free. The organizers do an excellent job of holding the intersections in Seattle for the riders – not that there’s much traffic at 0500 on a Saturday – and it’s only clusters of cyclists that slow you down. If I had a nickel for every time I say “on your left!” before noon, it would pay for the weekend away. I do enjoy hearing the whir of chains and cassettes cut the morning silence as we weave our way out of Seattle.

The ride seems so far away but really it isn’t. I could swear that we just started training for this year’s STP and now we’re half way through the schedule. Pretty soon we’ll be heading to Washington and pushing 200km rides to build stamina. I'm optimistic in reaching our goal. Time to spin it up!

4/23/2011

That's better!


Much better than last weekend’s ride. We kept the distance shorter (than last weekend) for our ride out to Steveston – just 126km. Such great weather made us all feel like we could’ve gone much farther. I’m sure we could have but in the interest of doing other things this weekend, we stuck to our agreed distance.

Set out at around 0900 and it was already warmer than any ride we had been on this season. The name of the game was layering as the temperature was climbing but we'd be near the water. We all had the perfect kit for the day. Not a single complaint was heard!   

We absolutely burned out to Iona and Steveston and I knew we were on pace for a good ride. It’s amazing what good weather can do for the spirit of a ride. Tony has been flat-free for 3 rides now thanks to a new tire. The coffee in Steveston was great as usual and powered us up for the second half. I love long weekend traffic - it seemed, at times, as though we had the roads to ourselves. Just a little crazy through English Bay but it always is.

I can’t really say much more about this ride other than we all agreed it was the best one yet this year. It’s nice to smell sunscreen on my face again.
Typical pre-ride dinner for Krista and me - all homemade. 
 * I brought the camera but didn't think to take any pictures. Maybe next time.

4/22/2011

Maintenance Day


I had to perform my second most disliked maintenance today – overhauling the bottom bracket. I dislike repacking wheel hubs the most. Thankfully I have cartridge bearings in my new wheels so I guess the bb has moved to the #1 slot.

T and I rode Lions Bay today – in the sun no less – and it was pretty grand. Chilly on the way out but the weather steadily improved along the way. The only annoying bit was my clickity-clackity bb. At one point I stopped and let T stealthily peddle past. “Such a quiet bike he has”, I thought to myself. I really do want a carbon steed but my aluminum Trek is going to have to do me for the foreseeable future. All I can do is keep her maintained as best I can.

I bared the sounds the rest of the ride trying not to think of my impending greasy, dry, cracking mitts. It was a spring-cleaning type of day so I dove into – after making pizza dough for tonight – the messy abyss. I was amazed at how much water had accumulated in my bb. I’d say about 30-50ml poured out as I removed it. Guess I’ve been on more wet rides than I realized. One positive thing about maintenance is drinking a beer whilst working. I could never work as a wrench else I’d be pissed every day.


My hands are as clean as they can be for now. It’ll take another 3 or 4 days for the rest or the greasy dirt to work its way out of the cracks. The bike, she’s smooth rolling once again and good to go for tomorrow’s ride. We’re on deck for about 120km or so. Let’s hope the warm stays out and the wind stays home.

4/20/2011

Food - No Bake Granola Bars

I got tired of paying way too much for mediocre tasting energy bars so I modified a recipe I found on-line for granola bars. They're cost effective and (most importantly) I know exactly what's gone into them. These seem to be doing the trick so far and have fueled all three of us on some long rides. It's not the only fuel we take but definitely helps keep us going.

Here's a base recipe. Tweak as you like. If you make some delicious modification, email me the changes.


No Bake Granola Bars Recipe 1.1 (V)

 

Ingredients:


2 ½ c. Rice Krispies cereal

1 c. uncooked quick oats

½ c. dried cranberries

½ c. pumpkin seeds (unsalted)

½ c. sunflower seeds (unsalted)

½ c. firmly packed brown sugar

½ c. light corn syrup

½ c. peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

How to make No Bake Granola Bars
In large bowl, combine cereal, oats, cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds; set aside.
In small saucepan, combine brown sugar and corn syrup.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in peanut butter and vanilla; blend until smooth.
Pour over cereal mixture; mix well.
Press into ungreased 13 x 9-inch pan using a piece of parchment paper to avoid sticky fingers.
Cool; cut into 24 bars.

Food - Black Bean Burgers

We had one of our favourite meals tonight - Black Bean burgers with Yam fries. We've really taken to these. They're still no substitute for my homemade Turkey burgers but are delicious and satisfying. We almost never eat beef burgers as I'm skeptical of the contents of ground beef unless I see the butcher grind an actual cut of beef. I can make no claim to this recipe as I just copied it from the internet. It needs no modification as far as our taste goes. Yam fries are simple and you really don't need to buy bagged ones. 

Peel a yam. Cut it into fries. Give a light coat of vegetable oil. Salt and paprika. Lay them on a baking sheet and bake in a (preheated) 425 F oven for 20 or so min. Flip at the 10 min mark. It's super easy.



Black Bean Burgers (V)

Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions
  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into six patties. 

If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side  

4/17/2011

First Century

Today was the Sun Run and to avoid 50000+ runners and numerous road closures we decided to head out to the valley for some flat riding and our first Century of the season. I don’t even know where to begin. Cold, wet and windy are just a few adjectives that come to mind.

We drove to our start point in South Surrey, kitted up and got rolling at about 0900. Cloudy and cold with a temperature of about 6 degrees. It’s really hard to get out of a toasty warm car and motivate yourself into 160km. I think Krista had the toughest time getting started; she hates the cold.

Not long after starting we ran into wet roads. I was thinking that we were lucky for having missed the rain. None of us were running fenders so the spray off our tires just made us wet and pulled our line apart – the only thing worse than spray from your tires is spray from someone else’s tires!

Then came the rain. Good. I thought we were going to miss out on that. We did find shelter, food and coffee at a farmers market/grocery type store. The best thing we encountered there was a store mascot all dressed up in a fuzzy chipmunk costume. T and I have no problem with this but Krista does. It was so very satisfying to see her (and the mascot’s) reaction when it attempted to reach its fuzzy mascotty hands around her to give a big hug from behind. I thought she was going to punch it in the sack! T and I had a really good laugh but I think the chipmunk was somewhat off put.

Coffee and food in our bellies, the sun shining once again, we set off to tackle Sumas Mountain. I think it really is the best part of this route and was excited for the descent to N. Parallel Rd. I clocked a mean speed there last year and couldn’t wait to spin up my new wheels. That’s when the hail came. After all the work of the climb I spent most of the downhill scrubbing off speed so I wouldn’t lay it down.

Now what would the day be without a little wind? Incomplete I say; bring it on! How about 60km of head and crosswinds all the way back to the car? That good enough? Hell yeah that’s "good" enough! The only upshot – and this is really stretching it – is that we got to put a lot of time in on our pace line. Needless to say it was a very slow Century for us. Just over 6 hours of riding time to be sure. I’m glad I had our recovery meal all planned and it was quick to make when we arrived home. Another upshot is just how fantastic beer tastes when you’ve really earned it! Now if only the warm would come out and play…

*…and just to be honest – we actually did 156.1km which is 3.9km shy of a Century (100 miles). But unless you actually did a Century today – on your bike – you can’t say anything! It sure felt like more and was damn well enough for all of us.

I took no pictures on this ride so here’s a link to something good.
       

4/16/2011

Warmth

It's been a cold week here on the coast. A fellow rider posted his stats on Thursday evening from his 2 hour indoor spin! Come on already, it's April!!! He rode inside because there was snow on the ground at his place in Burnaby. Kudos for doing a spin inside but I find this unacceptable. I'm longing for a ride that doesn't include a jacket, knee warmers or multiple layers. I'm sure he is too. I think we all are.

I put the Yellow Demon away for the season. It served a purpose and I have no interest in looking at it until next January. If the weather doesn't agree with my ride schedule I'll reschedule... no more Demon! I'm only outside from here on.

I'm feeling somewhat confident as I burned up the road on a Whytecliff ride yesterday. I put out a max effort ride and did it in record time. I had some pretty good "light luck" and wasn't held up by traffic too much so I managed a sub 1:33:00 ride (29.8km/h average speed)! My legs feel it today but that's alright, it's a rest day. I only push that type of ride every 3 or 4 weeks to see where I stand. I like where I stand so far.

 

4/13/2011

Safety first


Here are some ways to stay safe on the road:
1.    Only ride two a breast when there is enough room to safely do so. Single file is always safer.
Painted lines won't keep a car from drifting into you.


2.    Always wear a helmet – unless you really like soup.

German ad getting right to the point
3.    Keep your ears peeled for traffic from all directions. Large hipster headphones are strongly discouraged.
Dads are the original hipsters
4.    Obey the rules of the road and signal your intentions. When you’re at intersections, try to make eye contact with drivers so they know you’re there.
Bike boxes are a great idea but you won't find them anywhere around the GVRD. It might anger drivers more.
 5.    Use lights and reflective clothing to be seen on early morning or dusky rides.
6.    Point out obstructions and hazards to other riders in your group.

7.  Proceed cautiously when riding along parked cars. Scan windows and mirrors for movement. You want to avoid the "door prize" in this situation. Jaywalkers have also been known to hide in this environment and rarely look for anything without an engine. Be loud to be seen - your life could depend on it.
Add some traffic and this is the sketchiest of situations!

Here are some additional things to look out for (avoid) on the road:
1.    Veteran plates. I very much respect those that have served our country but their driving is suspect. Approach with caution.
2.    Old men with hats. A clueless and deadly combination behind the wheel.
3.    Gold cars. The most problematic of all vehicle colours. Be especially wary of Toyotas, Volvos and all makes of Minivans.
 * The trifecta is an old man wearing a hat driving a gold vehicle with veteran plates. I've seen this.

4.    Inexperienced riders posing as pros. They may become offended at you passing them and attempt to race you. Wait until a hill to school them.
 
Use your head and stay safe out there.       

4/09/2011

3 Bridges and a Fort


She doesn't smile like this driving places

Excellent ride out to Fort Langley today for a solid 134km! We also managed to get in our long ride of the week and stay dry. On the cool side but we’ll take that over wet any day. Also a good little cafĂ© out in Fort Langley that every cyclist seems to frequent – lots of individual and group riders out today. Everyone waving to each other and having a good time. That never happens in a car.

 


Fork Yeah!
I do have a love/hate relationship with the bridges on this ride. The Second Narrows Bridge is the first one we encounter. I hate everything about this bridge: the bike lanes are narrow, it’s noisy and going north scares the crap out of me unless I’m doing about 20km/h. There’s a weird optical illusion that happens for me on the northbound bike lane that makes the outside guardrail appear to have gaping holes (when I'm at speed). I know it isn’t true but it gets in my head and I feel like I’ll go through the imagined gap and into the drink. Krista and Tony are seasoned commuters over this bridge and know no such fear.
Tony representin'!

The Pitt River Bridge is the next one to cross and isn’t all that bad if they could just finish the cyclist approaches to this damn thing. The bridge has been open for a long time (I’m guessing almost 2 years now) but they never get around to finishing this aspect. Pisses me off but it's still way better than the old bridge.

Tony enjoying a different sort of "flat"
The Golden Ears Bridge is easily our favourite of the three. Beautiful, clean, wide lanes and it’s all clearly marked. Plus at the south end there are two really fun spiral on/off ramps you get to ride. I’ve never driven across the bridge but love riding across it.

Always pass on the left
So once again, homemade pizza the night before fueled us through an endurance ride. One area I always seem to neglect is post-ride hydration. I have no problem eating a bunch of food but hydration is just as important. Guess I’ll go drink some beer now - hey, it’s part of the training!     

4/08/2011

2 Clear Days!


That’s right, two whole days with no rain! A sign of brighter things to come? Perhaps. But for now I’ll just appreciate them for the glorious days they were. Yesterday was cooler than today but made for good riding conditions. The wind provided some good resistance out to Lions Bay and a lovely push for the journey home. Can’t say I was feeling that ride at the beginning. This happens from time to time; lead legs as I call it. They felt exceptionally heavy at the beginning but loosened up before I hit Horseshoe Bay so I carried on up to Lions Bay. By the end of the ride I managed to eek out 29.4km/h average speed. I’m happy with that sort of speed on a good ride let alone one with sluggish start.

Today’s ride was much lighter but so good. Krista took a day away from schoolwork and joined me on a short spin out to Deep Cove. Just a 32km ride but we both felt great. Probably because we were both anticipating a late brunch at the Tomahawk (www.tomahawkrestaurant.com). These folks know their stuff. A clubhouse for Krista and the Yukon breakfast for me. We don’t go often but have never been disappointed by the food or the friendly staff. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend!

The afternoon was nice wander around Granville St. downtown. Always great people watching. A mid-afternoon brew at Steamworks capped off the excursion.

For all the simplest reasons, such great days!

4/03/2011

Porteau Hell


Today we sacrificed distance for difficulty. Little did we know just how difficult this ride would be. It wasn’t so much the route as the circumstances that made for tough going today. First off, it was cold. Not really the biggest of problems unless you're forced to stop multiple times for extended periods. Secondly, highway 99 from Lions Bay and north is completely covered with debris. Obviously the road crews haven’t been out to clean the shoulders yet. All this debris eventually led to T getting a pinch flat (that's 2 flats in a row for T). The tire wouldn’t seat properly. The valve stem came out, thus negating his inflation efforts. We ran out of CO2 inflators (I’m so done with those little bullshit canisters that I’m getting a real pump to bring on rides). All the while, Krista’s core temp was plummeting and it took forever to get back up. 
This sums up everything!


Coffee and snacks in Lions Bay were good but shortly after we got rolling again, the rains came! Then T threw his chain. Not a big deal but it was just one more thing to add to our disdain for this ride. All this for 92 hilly kilometres. I bet we all wondered, at some point, why we didn't ride the Pacific Populaire.


I suppose we can only hope this was the shit ride for the season. We always have one. On the plus side, after I got out of the shower at home, I heard the rain really coming down. I was very glad to be inside and warm.

And for as pear-shaped as this went, it was still better than not riding at all.

4/01/2011

Back in the Demonic Saddle


Just when I figured I was done with the Yellow Demon, I found myself spinning on it again this morning. I’ve been off the bike for four days and that just wasn’t sitting well with me. Our last big ride was good and I had plans to do another 100(ish)km at some point this week. Unfortunately, the best days to achieve this were the days I was in studio. Fortunately, I was in studio. Daddy needs to pay the bills and is always happy to get calls from clients for work. I'm not really a daddy.

Today I had planned to get the 100 or so kilometres under my wheels but it’ll have to wait till Sunday. I can’t get my head around riding that kind of distance in the rain and despite what was forecast, that’s all it has done today. Maybe a shorter ride tomorrow and longer one on Sunday.

Four days off doesn’t diminish the fitness but I was feeling this morning’s spin a bit more than usual. Maybe I was trying a bit harder. I am fairly happy with my progress thus far, though. A good gauge of fitness is heart rate recovery. I’ve read this is a good indicator of overall cardiovascular health. When I’m done a max effort interval I keep an eye on how fast my heart rate drops back to normal during the recovery interval. Right now I’m dropping about 20-23 BPM/per minute. This seems decent for this point in the season but I’d like to get this number to 40 or greater. Lots of work ahead of me but that just means I get to ride more. I see no problem with that!