It's About The Journey

Might not look like much, but a long, steady, simple ride is where it all begins.

Now that you’ve got that little earworm stuck for the next 10 hours, let’s get to it.

What are base miles, why do we need ‘em, and how do we go about building them?

‘Bout That Base

Cycling has turned into a 365-day sport. If you can put two wheels on the surface, we’ll ride on it. If you get two people together on that same surface, we’ll race on it. This is great, because it’s increased accessibility to cycling year-around, and throughout so many different terrains/regions. But with so much up-time, it’s easy to lose the benefits of down-time.

Base miles aren’t designed to stress your muscles to the breaking point. Instead, they’re used to help your body recover from the previous year’s events, as well as aid your cardiovascular system by building endurance without adding stress to an already-beleaguered system.

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Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins...

Forget the climb, THIS is where the pain begins…

Rolling News. December 9th, 2014.

What started out as a casual conversation has turned into a profitable business model.

Will “The Wookie” Chambers was speaking with local esthetician Lila Marx while fixing her bicycle, and they got onto the subject of hair removal.

“I know cyclists that shave constantly, or have tried home solutions for hair removal with… shall we say, unfortunate results,” said Chambers. Chambers asked Marx about her hair removal services and the possibility of going into business together.

“I never really thought about it,” said Marx. “I mean, we’re always looking for new, stable customers. Never occurred to me what a great demographic it would be to target. One that’s already obsessed with how they look and continuously willing to spend gobs of cash? What a niche!”

When asked how his customers are responding to the new services, Chambers indicated that his clients have had only positive remarks. “Many male cyclists feel weird going into a beauty salon to setup a waxing appointment. But they’ll come into a bike shop, try on tight spandex shorts and skin suits. They just needed a place that they’d feel comfortable.”

My chariot. May it's footing be swift and sure.

My noble steed. May it’s footing be swift and sure.

I am a good cyclist. Why do I think that? Because I believe a large part of being a good cyclist means knowing what I’m bad at. And for me, that’s sustained power output. And basketball. Oh, and making pretzels. But I digress.

Enter the Time Trial
When you want to get better at climbing, you find a hill and you climb. And then you climb it again. And again. If you want to get better at sprinting, you find a marker and sprint. Then you do it again. And again.

Sensing a pattern? So I figure if I want to get better at sustained power output, I better output some sustained power. And nothing says sustained power like a good ol’ time trial.

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"I hear the  call to do nothing and am doing my best to answer it."

“I hear the call to do nothing and am doing my best to answer it.”

Things have been rough on the riding front this year. Lung infection, injuries, high work loads, family needs, etc. I’m about 1,500 miles behind where I was last year at this time. I don’t say this for sympathy; I say this because all the reasons mentioned are valid reasons to not ride. The problem? I feel guilty for not riding.

See, at some point, without realizing it, I crossed over to a dark road. Riding went from something I wanted to do to something I had to do. It became a requirement. Worse, it became a chore.

  • If I didn’t ride with the Wheelmen, I felt like I was letting down the race team; whenever I did ride with them, I felt I was just be holding them back.
  • If I didn’t ride with my casual team, I felt like I was not being a good supporter of the other riders on that team.
  • If I didn’t ride on my own, I felt like I was wasting opportunities to ride, stay in shape, burn calories, clear my mind.

So every time there was an opportunity to ride (or even when I couldn’t) and I didn’t, I felt like I was letting everyone down, including myself.

Now, I grew up Catholic, and if anyone knows how to do guilt, it’s the Catholics. So it was easy to blame myself for not riding. But here’s the deal, folks: you can’t ride because someone says you should ride. You can’t ride because others are riding. There’s only one valid reason to ride, and that’s because YOU want to.

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Rolling News. August 26th, 2014.

Project Icarus

Project Icarus

A new cycling company’s aspiration to build the worlds fastest, most aerodynamic bikes has been put indefinitely on hold by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Known as Project Icarus, this new, cutting edge bike company is the brainchild of several former Boeing and Lockheed Martin employees looking for new rolls in a downsized military economy.

“It was such a natural fit,” said lead designer and engineer James Jordon. “Bikes are using more and more aerospace technology: carbon fiber, titanium alloys, ceramics. We figured, who better to put these things to good use than us? We’ve been tinkering with this stuff for decades.”

“The first prototypes were outrageously fast,” claimed Lis Jentzon, project director. “Acceleration was off the charts. It was like having a motor in the crank, or the greatest tailwind following you wherever you went.”

As Project Icarus started to staff up their fabrication plant in preparation for full-scale production, the FAA decided that their first production bike – the Icarus SOL – no longer qualified as a bicycle. Instead, they claim it is essentially a pedal-powered jet.

Spokesman Eric Gradior of the FAA said, “Though we encourage innovation and hope that the materials and skills developed within the aeronautics industry can be applied to other pursuits, this is clearly an instance where you have to call a spade a spade.”

When asked why the FAA demanded that production be halted, Gradior stated, “It’s simple. You need a license to fly a plane. You need training to fly a plane. They’re building what’s essentially a plane. So, we need to figure out what kind of training and licensing it needs.”

“It’s a bike!” retorted Jentzon. “It’s got a handlebar; it’s got wheels! It’s a [redacted] bike! It just happens to be [redacted] fast and made by aerospace [redacted] engineers! [redacted] [redacted] [redacted]!”

Only time will tell if this new company’s production bike will ever get off the ground.

In related news, the head of the FAA announced her intention to step down from her post and run for a local congressional seat in her home district. Sources close to the campaign indicate a recent influx of funds from the automotive industry. We’ll report more on this story as it develops.

"Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in." ~Michael Corleone

“Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” ~Michael Corleone

This past weekend I got my saddle handed to me by the Wheelmen (a nice way of saying they dropped me like an insurance company with a late payment). But that’s okay. You get dropped now so you won’t get dropped later. Most of the route was flat, full-out, and fast. Once in a while there was a climb throw in after I’d barely hung on at tempo (high-speed), and that was that. I’d watch them roll away.

But there was one section of this ride that I started making up ground. Not much, mind you; the temp was already taking off and I’m too out of practice to act like I was anything more than a chihuahua chasing a Buick. But still, I was making up some ground.

That terrain: rollers. I can do rollers. it’s one of the few terrains that I’ve got. So I thought I’d spend a bit of time focusing on what works for me, and hopefully it’ll work for you, too.

[Please note: these are generalities; each set of rollers you encounter will be a little different – different grades, different heights, different frequency. Adjust accordingly.]

Know When to Hold ‘em

Riders are tempted by speed. We want to squeeze out every last MPH we can get before that next hill. The temptation is to pedal faster and faster as you reach the bottom of the hill. The thinking is the faster you hit the next hill, the easier it will be to climb. That’s true, but it’s also short-sighted. The idea to keep in mind isn’t max speed. It’s efficiency. If you’re already going fast and try to squeeze out more speed, you have to use a lot more energy to do that. The power required to fight air resistance above about 12 mph increases exponentially to your speed. Example, power needs at various speeds (assuming no wind, flat ground, and lots of other stuff):

  • 12 mph: 20 Watts
  • 16 mph: 48 Watts
  • 20 mph: 94 Watts
  • 24 mph: 162 Watts

So as you can see, the faster you go, the more energy you need to put into the system to go even faster. When you’re nearing the bottom of a hill, that’s usually not the time to try and gain more speed for the next hill. At least, not on rollers where there’s a short lull from one hill to the next. Use the last portion of the downhill as your recovery time. Find a comfortable, aero position, get down and let your legs rest up for the climb.

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Dripping sweat, drenched rain, muddy roads, all manner of "ew." But you keep rolling.

Dripping sweat, drenched by rain, muddy roads, all manner of “eew.” But you keep rolling.

Cycling – in short – is awesome. But like everything, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies (or titanium and carbon, as it were). There’s actually quite a bit that would make any non-cyclist reconsider saddling up. As your miles start to pile on, you’re gonna be exposed to some (or all) of these, and I thought you’d like to be prepared.

Insect Blanket

That warm weather – where it’s not too hot, not too cold, just slightly humid? Yeah, insects love that, too. Especially at dawn and dusk, anywhere there’s grass or water. Mid-to-late Spring is the worst, as they’re out in force. And if you’re wearing sunblock (always advised when riding during the day), you’re basically just rolling fly paper. Keep your mouth closed, unless you want to get all your protein in one gulp.

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Rolling News. August 19th, 2014.

Le Parkour

Le Parkour (“the course”)

While browsing through local Strava segments, a cyclist (who requested to remain anonymous – we’ll call him Joe) noticed a new segment next to his neighborhood. “The segment was pretty short. I figured if I got up enough speed coming out of my neighborhood, I could hit it quick and add another KOM to my list.” KOM stands for “King of the Mountain,” the top-spot on the leader board for a Strava segment.

Joe goes on KOM Hunts. He looks for segments that he can achieve first position on, travels to that location and then attempts to take the segment’s top spot. “I sometimes drive 30, 40, 50 minutes to segments. I warm up for 5-10 minutes, then I hammer the segment.”

Two months ago, Joe made his attempt to grab this segment’s KOM. “By the time I exited my neighborhood though this back road I’d never ridden, I had hit 32 mph, and I knew I was going to take this segment.” He says lowered his head and pushed harder.

What Joe hadn’t realized was that this particular segment was created on a popular local parkour course, connecting the two neighborhoods. The Strava record from which this segment was created was accidentally marked as a “ride”, allowing the segment to show up as a cycling segment. After a slight turn, the road ended in a 6′ high brick wall that abutted the back of the adjacent neighborhood.

Suzy Canowitz – walking home from the store – recounts what she witnessed. “I saw this cyclist going mach 2 down the street and thought that maybe he was going to hit his breaks and skid at the last minute or something. But he didn’t. I think he sped up! Next thing I see is he hits the curb and flies right into the wall, and his bike basically explodes. Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. I figured he’d be hurt, so I called 911.”

After nearly six weeks in the hospital, Joe is now filing suit against Strava, claiming the segment wasn’t properly marked as hazardous. Strava would not comment on the pending litigation.


[*** Disclaimer: This is satirical post. I have no clue whether Strava is used for Parkour, or whether some idiot would sue Strava for running into a brick wall. But tell me that doesn’t seem only too possible. :p ***]

Rolling News. August 12th, 2014.

Faster than a pedestrian. Stronger than a Mini Cooper. Able to leap large cracks in a single bunny-hop.

Faster than a pedestrian. Stronger than a Mini Cooper. Able to leap large cracks in a single bunny-hop.

Cyclists have long been known for their unusual feats – using more oxygen than the average human; eating more than small villages; travelling long distances in a single ride. But now, truly super human attributes are being documented among the cycling population. Scientists speculate that these abilities are manifesting themselves due to the convergence of several factors, including new cycling technologies, larger rider power output, and new supplements which claim to be “all natural.”

“It’s like a science-lab on wheels,” claims Prof. Leus d’Marco. “These cyclists push their bodies beyond anything in history, and we’re finding never-before seen proteins and molecules in their sweat and urine samples. Could be reactions between the embrocation creams, sunscreens, bug sprays, gel packets, electrolyte-infused drinks, and carbon fiber. But in our studies we’re only just scratching the surface of what putting all these random factors together in or on a human body might do.”

Cyclists are starting to take on pseudonyms and costumes to match their new-found abilities. “We’re already wearing spandex,” says one of the new super-cylists, “so it’s not like it’s a stretch. Get it?”

Some of the documented cases include:

Weather Rider: whenever he mounts his bike, mild weather becomes severe. Light clouds become a thunderstorm; a warm day flares up to over 120°; a slight breeze becomes a tornado.

Humidita: able to increase the relative humidity while she is pedaling to the point where the surrounding air becomes unbreathable.

Gradient Gal: the ability to increase the grade of a hill as she rides, turning the road into an impassable wall.

Blinder: this cyborg emits enough light to induce epileptic seizures and confuse local air traffic.

Crosswind Kid: the wind will always come from a direction perpendicular to his line of travel.

Cogito: when riding, Cogito’s IQ increases to immeasurable levels. His attention is turned towards the greater mysteries of the universe, leaving him vulnerable to heavy traffic and dogs.

Graviton: another cyborg, this cyclist carries so much gear on his bike and person as to generate a local gravity well, throwing off pace lines as he passes.

Chewtoy: a time trial specialist, the aerodynamics of his bike generate ultrasonic sound waves that irresistibly attract any dog within a 5 mile radius.

Only time will tell what new and fearful powers will develop as cycling continues to push the very limits of physics and biology.

Rolling News. August 5th, 2014.

Tony, as he appeared after the Hilton Hill Climb Challenge in May.

Tony, as he appeared after the Hilton Hill Climb Challenge in May.

After over three months of captivity, cycling and blogging celebrity Tony D. was returned home, unharmed. Tony was taken back in June while changing a flat on an evening ride, and since then there has been only intermittent communications between the abductors and the authorities investigating the case.

Originally demanding $1 million dollars for his return, the kidnappers found that no one was willing to pay that much for a cyclist. “You know how much we’ve been saving on food?” said a family member on condition of anonymity. After three months, the ransom had dropped considerably to $5,000 and some gas money “to make up for all the trips to the grocery store.”

Tony was finally found tied to his bike and gagged, in his front yard with a note on his chest. Below is a copy of the note’s text:

To anyone thinking of abducting a cyclist for ransom: DON’T! We were hoping to make a quick buck, maybe sell off his bike and get some ransom money for his return. But no one would pay! Most of his friends assumed he was just on a really long ride! We tried to sell his bike, and even though it looks new, no one wanted to buy it because the “components were more than three weeks old” they said!

And you just couldn’t get him to shut up about cycling! “Can you put on the Tour?” “Is it time for another snack?” “Are these restraints carbon?” “Is it time to eat?” “How much do these chains weigh?” “Do you have a trainer I can ride?” “When are we going to eat?” “If you shave your head you’ll save 2.3s when running away from the cops.”

We couldn’t take it! NO ransom is worth that. In fact, it took us so much food just to keep him alive that we’ve lost money!

Don’t abduct a cyclist. Just don’t.

When asked for a statement regarding his abduction and subsequent return, Tony said, “I’m happy to be back, and will start blogging again soon. But can I give you a better statement later? I’m three months late for a training ride.”