Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Cervelo R3 in the house

Originally uploaded by Erik Bakke.
We're going to elope to Tucson, Arizona first week of March. I like my new love - nice and trim, right at the UCI limit, even with the SRM... and comfy as can be on the road.

Got a set of American Classic Carbon 58 Tubular wheels too, just ordering a set of appropriate brake pads for those for the Zero Gravity ti brakes.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Harlem, here I come

Originally uploaded by Erik Bakke.
When I finally rolled out of bed this morning it was 10am, and I felt like a lazy mope... until I realized of course that it was 7am on home time, and I wasn't too far off on my body clock. I took a 10 block walk to get some breakfast and a coffee, and to gather my bearings a little better than last night.

I worked until about 2:30 in the afternoon, I've got a pretty good t-mobile wireless connection, but the gotomypc remote login system is a bit of a hassle in some ways - my computer uses Alt+Tab to switch between programs on my laptop, but when I'm in gotomypc looking at my work screen, I really wish I could switch between programs without having to mouse down to the tabs at the bottom. Anyway, I added my value for the day I think, and boss later acknowledged so through email so I'm happy.

When I came back from my breakfast walk, I took the elevator up to the fitness area to scope out what I'd have in store after a few hours of work left me all pent up to burn some energy... and the answer wasn't quite what I had hoped. They've got 6 gay-machines (crosstrainers), 6 treadmills, a couple of weight machines, and one recumbent bike. Not up Bakke's alley. I decide to make what I can of my workout outfit and head outside for a run... I've been doing a few sessions on the treadmill at work so I'll have a little range before getting sore. Running at just above zero with shorts on? Much more Canadian.

I layer on what I can since it's only about 35 degrees. I start with 2 layers of socks, some ankle gym socks and my warm ski socks I wore on the plane when I saw it was like -20C a couple days ago. I only have shorts, so I throw on underwear that are like bike shorts covering my quads, a pair of bike shorts, and regular outer shorts. This actually ends up working well and keeps my leg muscles warm the whole time. I wear a bike jersey so I can stuff things in the pockets, a white t-shirt, and a black long sleeve Arc'Teryx ski sweater that was a FirstEnergy ski day gift one year. The black leather gloves and black toque that I leave in the pockets of my overcoat complete the makeshift running outfit. I bring a plastic bag that I was going to put to block wind on my chest in between my layers if the wind was really cold. Grab the iPod and a few bucks and head out.

I don't really have any idea of my range, other than that I plan to head back when my legs get tired and sore. I set a slow base miles type pace to hopefully extend my sightseeing range. I start going north up both Lexington and Park. I can feel Capital, with a capital "C" in the air. JP MorganChase, Citi, UBS, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, etc. all have offices within a block of each other. Citigroup and Bank of America are the two largest public banks in the US, and just this one block of offices represent over a trillion dollars of market capitalization... and I know there's lots of others nearby (eg. Blackstone) or guys without their name on the front of a building. Smartly Audi, Mercedes and Ferrari all have dealerships on the ground floors to help soak up some of that bonus pool money. I'm actually surprised at how many Porches and Ferraris are driving around, to me an ultra-rich appropriate car in NY is a Rover, Benz or a Bentley. You don't really have an opportunity to drive fast, a luxury sedan or SUV in my opion would smooth out the bumps a little more on that rigorous commute from the Upper East Side loft down to the trading desk.

I make my way north and cut into Central Park about half way up. I snap a few tourist shots and ask for someone to take a snapshot of me while running around the reservoir. Scotty Bratt (one of my athletic co-workers) and I did a little running date here last year, it's a pretty scenic place for a cruise. Something about running in New York seems to necessitate me listening to Sting & The Police... most of his music is thoughtful, liberal and urbane. Everyone here is friendly, people who make eye contact smile. It feels nice that everyone is hospitable. I cross the park over to the Upper West Side, and make my way to the north end of the park.

I'm not tired yet, so I decide to jog through Harlem. A decade or more back I understand this would have been a fairly poor decision, but I understand that Harlem has come a long way lately. I turn right and head east, and even though I'm 45 minutes in and 67 blocks north of my start, I take my first left and keep heading north. If I peter out quickly I can take a train or cab back I figure. Plus I'm intrigued, I hadn't ever made it to Harlem yet in my various NY explorations, and have always wanted to. I run up Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, and see lots of stores that sell things I don't need - hair extensions, hair braiding, fake nails, tatoos, liquor stores, and some delicious smelling fried chicken place that undoubtedly would have a negative impact on my cholesterol levels. There weren't a lot of white dudes jogging up this way, but as it turns out, my jogging outfit was acually fairly appropriate for the day... Harlem had a few joggers, most looked more like the boxer types doing their roadwork (I'm not stereotyping, the jab combos while jogging gave this away). If I had Everlast across my chest I'd fit right in, but the black toque black shirt thing seemed to be what everyone wore. I had Jurassic5 to help me keep my pace up, the body easily adopts the beat it's listening to. The people certainly changed from Central Park and South. I noticed that instead of me smiling at people and having my smiles returned, I was being smiled at first and therefore owed the return smile. Not knowing the first thing about Harlem, that wasn't what I expected. Old dudes with canes, guys loading trucks, teenagers on the street, etc. would smile at me first, and I could never tell if it was just "hey man what's up" or "what's this kid running around here for?" but I didn't care, it was nice either way. I passed a butt-ugly looking brick building with an asphalt playground that served as a high school, sure didn't look very educationally inspirational. I was heading east, and didn't want to go further north until I saw Marcus Garvey park while crossing 5th Ave on East 120th. The park was a rocky knob of a hill, and I wanted to climb it for a hill workout and a good view south. I took a few pictures from the south end of the plateau, and walked across to the north end of the plateau that was fenced off as closed and had a few dudes... uhh... just sorta hanging out and doing their business. They didn't seem to interested in me, but I did have a momentary lapse of judgement. I like to jump onto walls and such to work on my vertical and balance, and the plateau was surrouned by a wall that was about 4 feet tall, with an A shaped crown so water wouldn't pool on it. I jumped onto it without bracing my hands on it, just landing with my feet so I could stand up smoothly. Fortunately the leap turned out fine, but I did startle myself a bit... when I climbed up the south end of the plateau, the same wall was there and below it was just a grassy hill. On this end I was suddenly looking down at a 3 story drop to jagged rocks. My heart rate was too low on the run anyway and needed a little jolt. I left the SE corner of the park where the 7 year old kids were better basket ball players than I've ever been. It's weird seeing kids that size hitting jump shots from anywhere a meter or two below the 3 point line. I seem to recall jr. high gym class there were enough kids who couldn't keep their eyes on the freakin' ball even during 3 on 3 that someone would eventually get a ball right in the face when they weren't watching for a pass.

As I returned south, Dr. Octagon (The Instrumentalyst: Octagon Beats) kept me company. I wasn't hungry or tired, but tempo did help me focus on sighseeing and just making the legs do their thing. There was a good 6 blocks of apartment buildings between Park and Lexington that were clearly marked as projects - emblems on the buildings that said "Owned by the New York Property Authority" confirmed the fact if you couldn't figure it out first by the local citizenry. Lots of tasty looking Mexican/Spanish Cochinas everywhere, and man did they ever smell tasty. Running 75 more blocks with a giant burrito in my stomach didn't seem like something I wanted to experiment with though. Eventually I made it back down into the Upper East Side, where the food markets looked a little more expensive and the fruits on display looked a little more choice and nicely waxed. Despite how good they looked, I held out till about 10 blocks from "home" back in Murray Hill to duck into one and pick up my afternoon snack, I didn't want to carry it too far back to the hotel. In a place that was no more than 10 feet wide, I bought a black bean soup and a tuna empanada from a Chilean woman who had 8 soups made from scratch daily. Something just looked right about the place. It reminded me of a co-worker of mine who frequently dreams out loud of opening up his "soup kitchen" somewhere, someday. Probably one of the smarter plans I've heard as of late. The people I was crowded in with were all complimenting Marina on her soups, and said they'd be back next weekend for a whole pot when they had company over. She made them happy, they made her some money. I hustled home, stopped into a Starbucks around the corner from the hotel for a tea, and hurried up to the room to feast.

So 124th Street was as far north as I made it, which was a full 81 blocks north of the hotel, plust I ventured east/west about 7 blocks. Elapsed time was 2.5 hours, and I didn't really feel sore until I walked the last couple blocks as cool down. My training has focused on low end aerobic capacity and strength, so my muscles, ligaments and bones felt really up to the task today. It was fun to tour through Harlem a bit, I've always wanted to. My soup and empanada were delicious, so now it's chill out time till the corporate dinner at 8:30.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Big, Bright Apple

Who wants super slick office space? Each time I arrive in New York, I find the scale and image of the city mindboggling. During the last 30 minutes of approach, it's nothing but lights and urban sprawl, with the Empire State building in view. From the time we landed to when we reached our gate, we passed 21 other planes that were in motion coming or going. I'd be surprised if there were ever any more than 4 in motion at a time in Calgary... plus we landed at just one of the three airports serving the metropolitan area.

Our cabbie (actually black car service, not a cab) was a Nigerian fellow. He asked if we were from Cagary right off the bat. I don't know if he watched arrivals or saw luggage tags (he was waiting outside), but he said he could tell because we were easy going. He knew Calgary had near zero unemployment, a booming economy due to oil, and that "everyone seemed to be entrepreneurial and owned their own business". No doubt the subset of travellers he saw was CEO's on marketing roadshows to NY institutional investors. A half hour ride into Manhattan probably passed 2x the population of Alberta. Economies of scale are nice - glad we got three travellers into our car downtown for the $120 trip.

We're staying at the Hyatt Grand Central, which is right at Grand Central station. So while I sleep 28 floors up (sir, the first 5 elevator banks serve your floor... like all I was thinking is how many elevators are there?), there's more people moving in the subway system each hour 5 stories underground than those who use Calgary's c-train in a day. The decor is modern and eclectic. Lots of fountains, minimalist furniture and modern art, grass/bamboo/stone arrangements, etc. New York is so image oriented. Far cry from the Powder Springs in in Revelstoke, BC.

We walked for a few blocks to stretch out the legs, checked out the ever impressive Grand Central, then the FirstEnergy ladies whom I'm with spotted a restaurant overlooking a park attached to the New York public library (which again is probably the size of all Calgary's library's combined).

Dinner was typically fantastic. It seems poor food is few and far between here, I suspect that with 20,000 restaurants in Manhattan that your doors close quick if you can't make the grade.

I drank my first bottle of Tazmanian wine, after bland airline crap everything with flavour sure hit the spot. On the way home we passed the above pictured office entrance. I have no idea what the decor inside is like, but I'm sure it's interesting taking vacations if you work there, cause basically everything on earth is going to seem quaint and old fashioned compared to that motif greeting you every morning.

The girls have aggresive plans to tour the city tomorrow, I'll have breakfast with them then do my own thing.

If I lived an unlimited lifestyle it sure would be nice to spend a week or two a year here. Funny that just a week ago we were the only 12 guys in a bar in a quiet mountain town, amused with a punching machine. Not quite as urbane and cultured as here... I love savouring the contrast. Mild weather, would be great for riding. If I were here for full day Saturday and Sunday I would have brought the bike!

Friday, 26 January 2007

Ups and Downs

Well, I'll start off by saying the ups definitely outweighed the downs today, but the timing leaves me a little frustrated heading to bed.

The rest of my physical exam turned out well. I'm far to the correct side of the bell curve on every measure they could think of. My blood has lots of good things, and not many bad things, and it's at a pleasantly low pressure so I'm not likely to blow a gasket anytime soon. My absolute levels of cholesterol are low, as is my ratio of good to bad cholesterol. Both are better than what is prescribed when people with high cholesterol discover their issue, and use drugs and diet to make immediate extreme adjustments to treat themselves as fast as possible. So I'm just walking around in extreme treatment range all day, guess I shouldn't clog up the heart any time soon. At least it makes me feel good that nearly always watching what I eat isn't all for naught. I hit the maximum on the upper body strength test (surprising), abdominal curls, and was the only person the tester says he'd seen that pushed the measuring stick right off the end of the box on the touch past your toes test. My body composition came in leaner than expected, and he observed that proportionately I carry a lot of muscular weight in my calves, quads, hamstrings and back. That's what I aim for, glad it turns out that way. I've heard others come back with lists of dietary recommendation, referrals for exercise, indicators showing that they drink "socially" way too much, smoking cessation programs, cholesterol scares, allergy alerts, other random follow up testing to hone in on "problems", you name it. The VO2 test they did wasn't maximal testing, rather it was inferred. But it came out exactly in line with my U of C guinnea pigging a few years ago, so it seems their protocol works. It's scary how low I've heard some of the other scores come back in our office banter... no wonder people can feel short of breath at the top of stairs... or shaky for an hour after they have to sprint a couple blocks to make a meeting on time.

I had a discussion once with Jon Nutbrown on the approprateness of pride as an emotion, and I think we agreed that it serves it's place as long as it isn't overdone. I have to admit I walked around with pride this afternoon. Health is what makes life, and I try very hard to be healthy. I feel good that my efforts have worked, cause I kicked every indicator they looked at to the far end of the best side of the spectrum. Good fortune isn't to be overlooked either, the luck of the draw play a part in health as well. And I definitely do feel fortunate. I even got two check marks next to the "testes" boxes, which is a hell of a lot better than missing one somehow.

The best part of it is, I honestly don't see why I couldn't score nearly the same for plenty of years to come.

The downs today were little annoyances. My iPod bit the dust, I did have a few years of wear on it. House is a mess, I gotta pack and do laundry, so I started that then didn't get to Bow Cycle in time to fit my new Cervelo, bummer since I carried a bunch of my parts down with me (biking). Which also means I didn't have time to do a few hours of riding. A thread appears to be stripped on my Strong frame - one of the rack mounts. Bummer. Only one of my 29er wheels held air on my tubeless conversion. Lots of little things... but I feel better cause I ran over to London Drugs to pick up an iPod Nano, can't do 10 hours of flying in the next few days without some Espanol!

Medical Testing

OK, this is my good news for the morning. My employer has one of these executive health monitoring programs set up, so once a year people go in for comprehensive physical exams. I'm part way through my experience, and don't have any results back yet... so this could seem positive and I could still be told I'm terminally ill in short order.

This morning I went over to Gulf Canada Square for some chest x-rays:

Technician: "Mr. Bakke, we're going to take two chest x-rays this morning, one from the side, and one from the front."
Erik: "Sounds good, thanks."

Process of two x-rays follows.

Technician: "Mr. Bakke, please have a seat over there for a few minutes, but don't put your shirt back on yet."
Erik: "OK, thanks, that was pretty easy."

Couple minutes pass, while Erik is listening to Spanish lessons on iPod.

Technician: "Mr. Bakke, we need to take one more x-ray of your chest."
Erik: "OK, should I interpret that as a good sign or a bad sign?"
Technician: "Your lungs are too large for our film, we'll need to take a second x-ray and patch the two together."
Erik: "Is this typical?"
Technician: "Usually on people over 6'6", or well developed athletes."
Erik: "Sweet, I like the sounds of that."

I like Fridays!

Monday, 22 January 2007

FCC Christmas 2006

FCC Christmas 2006
Originally uploaded by Erik Bakke.
I've been meaning to get around to this one for just over a month now. Each year our company heads out to the Banff Springs hotel for our annual Christmas party, and after attending now for the last 6 years, it's become a staple of the Christmas season for me.

It's nice to work for an employer who makes efforts to be thoughtful to employees. If you've got children, or are an aunt or uncle and want to bring along other little kids, we have a kids party at the zoo each year. Then there's the usual adult trip out to Banff, where we have the option of skiing at Lake Louise for the day (established even before the Murray Edwards connection), or just hanging around and relaxing. For the last few years we've also been lucky enough to get Ogio luggage in various sizes as a little perk... which with my improving travel itinerary, has proven very useful.

This year each managing director provided something along with the usual corporate luggage, and as it turns out, each of the gifts is a predictably fitting token of their giver.

A music fan provided a CD of a distant relative of his who's making progress in a music career, and another music fan gave a gift certificate to the Apple music store online. That way I can have some good tunes pumping when I head out for ski days at Louse and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies on with the ski discount card. A couple of oenophiles chipped in nice bottles of wine, as well as one bottle of port. Further, a bottle of caramel Bailey's was included, a flavour I never knew existed. Apparently this is a message that I'm supposed to drink lots after my Saturday ski trip. Fortunately, I'll be able to perk up my Sunday morning's with some gourmet coffee (with Bailey's?) while sitting in my chair and reading The 5 People You Meet in Heaven... one of those feel good make you think about life little books, from a guy with a compassionate heart, all while munching on some Bernard Callebeaut chocolates, coming from Mr. Chocoholic himself. After wrapping up the book, I can thumb through the latest issue of National Geographic Traveller with the subscription that we received from a well traveled man... very thoughtful. Now all that's needed is an extended vacation policy... And to tote around on vacation, a small leather organizer for all those little bits of paper you need, but never have a place to keep organized. Finally, a charitable donation to an organization who helps more families experience a Christmas like this who really, really can't otherwise.

I wasn't in town for Christmas this year, so this really was my Christmas this year for the most part. It's not about the items, it's the fact that some people thought it was worth their time and effort to get a handful of thoughtful gifts for 80+ employees. Sure they mean different things to different people, but giving stuff away feels good, and it's nice that the corporate world hasn't forgotten that.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Revelstoke Revelry

After a drive that featured highly limited visibility and seriously snowy roads, we made it to Revelstoke at 9pm safely.

The first night of a road trip is often hard to reign in. We had dinner, watched some hockey, drank excessively, and found ourselves at Revelstoke's only peeler bar which featured one dancer all week long. This joint is the social hub of the town, everywhere else is dead. This is the only place we've found with women or mixed dates, the other "social spots" have a few middle aged guys with mesh backed hats watching hockey or sledding videos and drinking beer.

After most guys drinking 3x what they should have, we made it to bed. Breakfast was at 7am, bus left at 8 for the hill. We got to the top of the hill for skiing at around 10:30.

This was the deepest powder day I've ever had, it was riduculous. The group is in awe of what we're doing. We start out with a few tree runs, then move to the steeps. All's well till I find my way to the top of a cliff complex in the low visibility clouds at the top. My heart was pumping, it wasn't pleasant as I had a few options that weren't appealing in and way, shape or form. Eventually some guys below were able to talk me to a safe route,

The day was epic in all respects, the snow was unbelievable. The town and hill were buried deeper more than anyone has seen. Jumps have soft landings, skiing the tree glades is effortless, and Warren is pulling off some huge air and tricks - we're all having fun.

We power nap after skiing, and head down for our 7pm buffet. Food is great, we gorge and move on to watch the Flames crush the Oilers.

The night life in Revelstoke seems to be limited to half a dozen places at most. After someone had the "foresight" to buy a round of Jager bombs during hockey, we head over to a bar that's got a punching bag machine. Turns out our group of 12 are the only patrons of the place, but punching, pool and drinks seems to make up for the lack of ambiance. After a slow start, I clock the second highest force punch of the group, despite being one of the lightweights... only Warren beats me. We decide the peelers are worth another visit, with the only dancer again this week being Ziggy. Again it's the only place that appears to be a true social spot in town, and like any other place, comes with hours of sledding videos... the staple of the town.

Legs feel fine, and it's time to rest them up for another epic day Sunday!

Friday, 19 January 2007

Cabin Jam in January?

One of these days I'll learn... but last night I got out for a great January night ride. (picture isn't mine, just for theatric effect)

Yesterday I was doing a light workout at lunch when I received a message from Dallas, "Wanna come ride with Steenbergen and I tonight?" What kind of pace? "Slow, talking pace."

I said sure, let me know when, I can get out for a little while, but I've gotta pack for cat skiing too. I didn't mention that I was tired from being at work at 5am today for an equity financing deal.

I should have known better:
1. Steenbergen, aka the Steamroller (cause he pummels me into the ground) does not go for slow rides. I should have learned this in November when we went out in a group one day. Maybe for him they're base rides, in which case his base is exceedingly impressive. For me this was an upper tempo/sub threshold/threshold mix ride, generally harder than I'm interested in doing on a dark January night.
2. Don't show up to a ride with fast riders with a heavier, slower bike than theirs, when you know you'll need all the help you can get. My 'cross bike still has touring tires on it, and I thought they'd be a little slick with the new snow. So I rode my winter bike - 1kg studded tires and all.

We rode the cabin jam route, plus ventured off on some gravel roads south of Cochrane on the south side of the river. Dallas dropped a little past the 1 hour mark, his recent buff down diet and training left the stomach a little underfueled for a ride like this. I ended up dropping about 20 minutes later. I noticed that when I dropped at the 90 minute mark that my AVERAGE power up to that point was 275 Watts. This includes coasting, and the the fact that I drafted the entire time (sorry, I'm not up to pulling guys this strong with 1kg tires, I'm looking out for my own survival). Point is, we were moving along pretty nicely... not my "slow, talking pace" unless you count the voices in your head telling you this is nuts.

I had an unpleasant encounter with a rig while crossing the bridge over the Bow into Cochrane, and after taking down the plate, decided I'd better motor home before I ran out of energy and froze. Made it home with some frozen pinky fingers, but that's about all.

Truth be told, this was a fantastic ride. I'm "complaining" in jest for the most part. It feels good to one of the guys hardcore or nutty enough to be pounding out some good miles in the depths of January darkness on a Thursday night... too bad I didn't have a team jersey on to advertise the fact. I had a smile on my face, my fitness held me through better than I expected which is reassuring, and I still got home in time (3 hours after departure) to thaw my fingers and pack for the cat ski trip to Revelstoke.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Mas Espanol

My left brain aches. I know that the brain doesn't have sensory nerves per se, hence the ability to televise open brain surgery with only local anaesthetic, but yet I feel some sort of brain sensation.

It has something to do with iPod Spanish to and from work on the train, plus evening Spanish class, plus the odd attempt at recalling a Spanish word during the day.

Last time I experienced a similar sensation was when I began to use PowerCranks. I don't really associate it with learning, not yet anyway. I'd articulate it more as a sustained effort that's different from ways you're used to doing something. Maybe it's a prepatory phase to learning, such as "get this part of the brain ready to lay down some new tracks". If my brain was a farm, the soil has been turned by plow and disrupted, but no seeds have been planted yet. I recall the sensation lasting for about 10 PowerCranks rides. I'd come home with my primary cycling muscles unfatigued, a few "new" muscles very fatigued, and this dull cranial ache.

It's not an acute feeling. It's kind of like when you floss your teeth for the first time after being bad and skipping out for a while... and a couple of hours later your gums experience a sensation - not a pain, not even an ache, more of a "something happened here, and we're now working on the solution, and we'll keep you on really low level alert for the next little while here". It's a stretch to call it a dull ache.

That's a lot of words for a half hearted attempt at articulating something that I still feel has eluded articulation...

Saturday, 13 January 2007

Big Metabolism Bliss

I relaxed on Friday, rebuilding from my midweek workouts so that I'd have some energy for the weekend. It was -9C at my house this morning, so after breakfast I layered up, threw two cans of Boost and a flask of gel in my pockets, took one waterbottle in my jersey to keep it from freezing, and headed out the door with the intent of returning when I was cold or tired.

I didn't feel too bad heading west through the neighbourhoods, so I decided to head out the TransCanada for a couple of km then branch off on the cabin jam route.

When all was said and done and I rolled into my driveway, it was 4 hours of riding at an aerobic pace. Never felt tired, legs were fine. One foot got a little cold, but it was just in time for a stop at Cochrane Coffee Traders anyway where I bumped into a lady who was studying some Spanish books. On the way home I saw two cars spin out on the roads. One guy was kind enough to honk when he thought he was coming straight for me.

Coming through the city, I see people running from their houses to their cars, and shuddering as they walk down the street. Most of them give me funny looks, especially when I brake stand at lights, and people have their car heaters blasting, and feel their car tires slipping everywhere, but here's a guy in trim clothes that can balance on this slippery stuff??

I wasn't cold. Part of it is pacing, I'd ease up when I was sweating too much. But the other part of it is that my metabolism is firing on all cylinders these days. I love the feeling, it's what makes me who I am.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Base building continued

Well, it's been a busy week, I've got tasks on the go all the time, from lunch hour workouts, to Monday and Wednesday evening Spanish classes, to training, errands and projects on the other nights.

Seems that a schedule that works well now is Saturday and Sunday bigger days, Monday off, Tuesday-Thursday doing lunch and evening workouts, and Friday rest for the weekend. It seems about 12 hours/week has been a sustainable average for me, but honelstly at this time of year I don't mind cutting that back since trainer workouts are so efficient - no coasting and such, just nice constant load. I guess that means there's no power spikes and other random challenges either, but that's fine right now. Q1 for me is already including lots of weekends gobbled up: New York work trip, Revelstoke Cat Ski trip, Victoria work trip, Fernie ski weekend will all cut into training a bit. On the positive side, 9 days in Tucson and a weekend in Victoria will help. Haven't really looked at Q2 yet, other than one 5 day stint in Phoenix for riding.

I've entered my last two race seasons in fairly different form. Two years ago I entered the year very light (150-155lbs) and very aerobically fit. I climbed great on sustained climbs, but those are few and far between in Alberta, and don't feature prominently into our racing circuit. As expected, I got blasted on the flat hammer rides, rollers, etc. as I had proportionately less leg strength and absolute power. Last year I didn't watch weight nearly as much (160-165lbs, I like that weight), and did a power training program riding much of the winter. Let me clarify that as
saying I did training focused on building upper threshold power in early season. Interesting, yes, but in retrospect, wrong time of year. It was prescribed as a winter training plan. I'll just leave it at that. I neglected in some ways my aerobic base, but my desire to "ride lots" overcame some of that come springtime so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

So my plan this year is to buff up (160-165 range (I'm 166 now) I can hit again for sure without comprimising power). I'm doing lots of pure aerobic work now, with leg strength as well. Been doing mostly 1 hour blocks midweek at lunch, couple evenings I can do 90 min to 120 min if all works out, and weekends I go longer. But instead of incorporating any power (power is speedxstrength), I'm keeping leg speed down and doing strength (on and off bike). For example yesterday I did a workout for 45 minutes (plus warmup/cooldown) where I was 50-70 rpm and pushing pretty hard the whole time, lots o-torque, but keeping my HR around 140-145. I think it's promising... and if not, at least it feels good.

Good riders push big gears fast for long periods of time. One year I couldn't push big gears, one year I couldn't push them long enough. I'm not worried about losing leg speed capability, I've got an acceptably smooth pedal stroke (PowerCranks help), and can ride without bouncing at pretty high cadence. I actually think 50-70rpm improves your stroke better than most people give credit for, because it really helps you use all the muscles around the pedal stroke, you can't skip portions.

We'll see how it's going in a month or so, I feel good now.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Gotta start somewhere

In cycling training speak, I'm in a first phase basebuilding stage now, and with my first Spanish night class I was introduced to the alphabet... so essentially I'm basebuilding both on and off the bike. Only in one case, I know very well what the progression is and that I'll be in peak form in 6 months!

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Weekends at home are fun

It's novel being at home for the weekend now after spending a while out of town.

Mom and dad got a "new" car, pretty darn new anyway. 2005 Toyota Matrix with like 20,000k on it. About 1/3 off new price... I always love that used car math. Pay 2/3 for something that still has more than 9/10 of it's useful life left in it. Rather stylin' for a retired couple, I didn't really picture them in something with tinted windows. They seem happy, it seems it will fit their needs fairly well.

Managed to get another couple hundred Chile/Argentina pictures up. Unfortunately so far none of the SD card data recovery software I've downloaded from the 'net has seemed to retreive the pictures shot from Bariloche to El Bolson. Oh well, hopefully everyone's appetite has been whetted with the pics that are up so far, and considering that was one of the most beautiful days, you'll just have to find your way down to that stretch of road yourselves!

Tori and I are starting our cycling training year now... or you might say we're doing more of a pre-amble to training right now. I got in a little over 3 hours of quality endurance riding today, plus some on-bike leg strength intervals and a little bit of leg strength with weights. The touring endurance hasn't disappeared yet, so it's fun to have the energy for more work all day.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Niners, January group riding!

It's like a late Christmas for me here... Devin and I got the Niner One9's built up, they're sweet. On top of that, we get 7 people out for a group ride in January... life is good. Tori, Gerry, Devin, Jon and myself on SS, Ivan and Pat brought gears. We did Sideshow Bob first, I think I could ride 100k of that roller coaster if it was available. Smooth surface, not too much ice right now, and I love the pedal-pedal-torque-torque-crest the roller-cruise and flow, rinse and repeat trail. Crossed the river, made our way through Bowness, climbed Edworthy and did some icy/snowy singletrack descent back down to the river. Down the path to Coffee Junkie downtown, then up Center Street, along Crecent Heights, and home through confederation park. After a stop at home for the guys who were done, my touring legs wanted more. Knowing Jon is never one to shy away from more riding, we headed up to Nose Hill for another hour. Did some great leg strength climbing on the SS, grinding it out at low RPM trying to keep the heart rate in check on the climbs. This works for 2/3 of the ascent, but it's inevitable that HR will climb. Jon and I finished it off with two large helpings of Chinese leftovers, everyone knows that's what keeps a cyclists' yin and yang in balance after a workout.

The Niner web site doesn't do the colors justice. Tim's kermit green one looks way better in person than online, same with Devin's hot tamale and my tang colored one. Suffice to say, they look great. The build kit on these is sweet, nice parts throughout. I've still got some hangup on why they didn't package a progressive technology like the niner concept with the other revolutionary mountain bike technology, the tubeless tire. Running these giant things at 28-29 psi is now my short term dream. Just gotta decide if I swap the wheels, or just home-do these into tubeless. Large contact patch is touted as a benefit, but with a tire at 35 psi, this isn't going to be as large as it could be. The tires are comically large. I felt like I was working an inordinately long amount of time with my floor pump to fill these things up. Pat had a new Rocky Mountain out, looking shiny and fast, and Tori of course had pinky.

They ride nice. The scandium is stiff, power transfer feels great. The track chain is a nice touch. The fork is stiff despite it's long legs. There's really nothing to complain about, it's a quality component kit all around. I understand the logic on the ultra wide handlebars (71cm!), to help you generate torque. But seriously, not everyone rides trails built nice and wide by the local highway department. I might trim them back a ways, I was feeling more brush/knuckle contact than I have for a long time.

New toys and riding with friends is enough to really make my weekend.