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Archive for the ‘Training ride’ Category

Early Season Training

We all know that races are won or lost before the season starts, when we brave the cold to ride outside or punish ourselves by spinning on the trainers while staring at increasingly numbing videos.  This year we have decided to train with more focus and energy than in years past, and, to help make us more honest in our training, we bought a formal program with our most consistent training partner.  The training plan is designed to help prepare racers for the Tour of the Battenkill, which arrives in mid-April.

I have quickly learned that the way training plans look on the computer screen bears little relation to the way they feel in my legs.  The plan we are following has us doing a lot of short days with rides under two hours.  As a big-miles freak, I looked at these short rides and scoffed.  How could 75 minutes ever get me in shape to race?  The answer is simple: when those short rides are stuffed with intervals, you get in shape fast.  I’m sore and tired, and I expect I’ll get very used to that feeling in the next several weeks.

 

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  • 19.1 avg
  • 37.4 max
  • 136 AHR
  • 167 MHR
  • 22.74 miles
  • 1:11:28

At this time of the season, I always start to feel tired and sluggish, as if my muscles are not going to push any more. It always surprises me, then, when I have a ride like today. I felt tired and sluggish as usual, but at the end of the ride my stats showed that it was one of the fastest times ever on that particular training route. This good time was without any sense that I had pushed especially hard or had really worked the hills or concentrated on speed. During the early spring, I can ride this same course at a hard, training intensity pace and still finish it six or seven minutes slower. The one truly bad part of the ride is that my cracked rib is hurting more and more. It’s going to be a stubborn, slow healer, I can tell.

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A Couple of Rides

  • 17.7 avg
  • 36.9 max
  • 129 AHR
  • 160 MHR
  • 18.19 mi
  • 1:01:44
  • 16.5 avg
  • 38.6 max
  • 119 AHR
  • 161 MHR
  • 19.0 miles
  • 1:09:16

A couple of short training rides.  My rib is still hurting quite a lot when I ride, so it is difficult to plan a long ride.  The bike, though, really does have a nice feel to it, and I am now convinced that the front end is tighter and more responsive than my old bike’s.

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  • 18.1 avg
  • 38.3 max
  • 134 AHR
  • 164 MHR
  • 38.92 miles
  • 2:08:57

Cannondale has discontinued the Six-13 for the 2009 model year, but, now that I have one race and one serious training ride on it, I can say that it is a very fine bike that holds its own on the road.  It’s not terribly surprising why the company decided to get rid of the Six-13: with a new carbon/aluminum ride (the Six) and an expanded line of carbon bikes (the Supersix HiMod, the Synapse HiMod, and the Six Carbon), the Six-13 is redundant.  Since it is basically the CAAD9 with two aluminum tubes cut out and replaced by carbon, it has the legendary great tracking and acceleration of the lower-line model; the carbon, I guess, is supposed to cut down on road vibration and provide a slightly more comfortable ride.  Since I haven’t tried out the CAAD9, I can’t say if this is true or not.

But, on to my review of the Six-13.  It is really a great-riding bike.  I went out today for a two hour ride through the hills just south of home, past the reservoir and up some backroads that are bumpy and mangled even by Connecticut standards.  First, the ride quality.  Despite the very tight rear triangle and oversized aluminum tubing, the bike never felt harsh.  Of course, this is a subjective assessment, and, since I ride a lot of miles, I’m probably a little less sensitive to so-called harshness than many other riders.  Still, I never felt the frame was chattery or skittish on rough road surfaces.

The frame is also noticeably stiff, but I want to stop here and say that the obsession with a “stiff” frame is largely marketing hype.  I read a lot of bike chat forums, and the low-miles gearheads are always going on and on about how stiff a frame is, as if that is the ultimate test of a bike’s qualities.  To clarify, then, here is what I mean by a stiff frame.  When I stand on the pedals and accelerate hard, the bike surges forward with no sense of loss of power.  When I corner aggressively, the bike tracks straight with out a feeling of give at the apex.  My BMC, though remarkably tight in the bottom bracket (hmmm…that sounds vaguely obscene…) had a fork that was probably too light for someone with my size and power, and I did notice a slight sponginess in hard corners, as if the bike really wanted to take a more leisurely way through.  So, the Six-13 feels like it wants to carve the curves a little more tightly.

Cannondale has been building bikes for a long time, and they know what they’re doing when they weld aluminum tubes.  This shows in the little things, like the sense of stability I get even when cutting a tight line through a sharp corner, or the ease with which everything fell into place when I was building the bike up.  It tracks beautifully and simply feels solid.  Nothing fancy: just solid and dependable.  It is a workhorse frame, tough enough to get the job done with a minimum of fuss and flash.

I had a moment of fright this afternoon on my ride when I was swooping down a fast hill and some dipshit in an SUV pulled out in front of me.  I had to climb on my brakes to make sure I didn’t end up smashing two frames in less than two weeks.  This told me two things.  First, the bike is stable even under harsh, sudden movements.  Second, I did a great job building the bike, and, more specifically, adjusting the brakes.  The latter is a HUGE relief, since I can be a little insecure about my mechanical talents.

This is actually a difficult review to write.  The truth is, I didn’t really notice the bike as I was riding unless I glanced down at that very bright orange top tube.  It simply disappeared beneath me as I pedaled, which is exactly what you want a bike to do. All I had to think about was keeping the pedals turning.

This invisible quality was very evident last night in the Tuesday Night World Championships.  The final sprint was a mess, with a huge glob of riders still at the front, including a lot of pack fodder that had no business getting in my way.  I started the sprint late, partly because three guys decided they were just going to give up about 300 meters from the line, and they would not get the hell out of my way.  Then, I had to do some bobbing and weaving to get through the clogged lane to a clear path to the line.  I found daylight and screamed up the left-hand side, passing about ten guys in the last 100 meters to take third place.  If not for the bad positioning, I probably would have won, since I was seriously gaining at the end.  At any rate, the bike was not in my mind at all.  All of my concentration was focused on getting to the line as fast as I could, and the Cannondale did everything I asked it to do with no complaints, even when I made some very hard demands on it.  And that, friends, is what makes a good race bike.

It looks like our club will be sponsored by Cannondale next year, which I like.  I’ve been thinking about getting new race bikes for both me and Dorothy, and the CAAD9 might be a good bet here, especially since C’Dale is offering a special edition of that frame for sponsored teams.  If it rides as well as my new Six-13, it will be a very worthy bike, and will look awesome with the new Campagnolo Record 11 Speed hanging on it.

One final note on the ride.  My rib hurt like crazy after about thirty minutes.  The bone I cracked is high up under my armpit, so it doesn’t flex as much when I breathe as the lower ribs I cracked two years ago, but it still hurt like hell.  Even a new bike couldn’t cure that pain.

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Not a Century

  • 19.6 avg
  • 44.0 max
  • 151 AHR
  • 173 MHR
  • 42.78
  • 2:10:54

We drove up to Torrington early this morning to ride in the Tour of Litchfield Hills century. Unlike most other centuries I have done, this one has a mass start, like a race, instead of sending people off whenever they get ready to go. I like this format, because it gets everyone together and the fast group can then work the pace. I was hoping to make this a sub-five hour century, and since there were a lot of tough, strong riders, especially from Benidorm (including at least one Cat 2), I thought it would work.

About five miles in, I hit a pothole, and one of my water bottles bounced out. I tried to pull out to the left to go get my bottle, but some jerk insisted on passing me on the left then, so it took me a while to get out of the pack and back to my lost bottle. I probably should have just left it, but I didn’t relish the idea of riding a hard 100 miles with only one bottle. By the time I got the bottle and took off again, the fast group had passed and had at least a half mile on me.

So I went into chase mode, keeping in mind that I did have 100 miles to ride (well, 95 by that time). The terrain was rolling hills, so I couldn’t set a fast pace and drill it but had to keep adjusting for climbs, descents, and a mean little headwind. I started picking off the stragglers and was making good time, with an average speed of over 20 mph. I hit the long climb up route 4 to Sharon and soon saw that the fast pack had split in half and I was about to overtake second half.

Then my cell phone rang. Dorothy, who was riding a few miles behind me, had broken a spoke in her rear wheel, and the wheel pulled so badly out of true that it was not ridable. I rode back to her, and we caught a SAG wagon back to the finish.

The Tour of Litchfield Hills is a very well-organized ride, and the money raised goes to fight cancer, so I’m sure we will be out again next year, with tighter water bottle cages and stronger wheels.

EDIT:  I noticed tonight that my water bottle cage is actually broken.  I’m not sure how you break a stainless steel bottle cage, but I somehow managed to do it because I am insanely tough on my equipment.  I should hire myself out to bike and accessory manufacturers as a tester and try to break their products.

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Training Ride

  • 18.4 avg
  • 40.1 max
  • 138 AHR
  • 175 MHR
  • 40 miles
  • 2:10:25

A fun, late-afternoon ride with a couple of friends.  We hit some hills and drilled it on the rollers.

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  • 18.5 avg
  • 36.0 max
  • 125 AHR
  • 157 MHR
  • 18.20 miles
  • 59:08.7

I was still sore and tired from my effort at Hilltowns, so I set out for a nice recovery ride.  It took me almost 15 minutes before I felt comfortable on the bike, but I soon settled in and started to feel good pedaling.  I didn’t have much of a kick at any time on the ride, so it was a good thing I didn’t need one.  After the ride was over, I felt much better than I did at the start of the ride, which is the main reason for a recovery ride.

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