nekoballs

March 16, 2010

March PV Field Test Protocol and Jack’s Prime

The first Saturday of every month, the team performs a Field Test Protocol (FTP). This test is another piece of data to help gauge our fitness and to evaluate our training. The goal of the FTP is to estimate our lactate threshold heart rate.

Our FTP consisted of two approximately 6 mile long time trials along Cañada Rd. The starting point was the Pulgas Water Temple, and the turn around point was the Oak tree at the top of the hill heading South on Cañada. The end point was at the top of the hill slightly past the Water Temple. The time trials were ridden as hard as we could maintain and lasted between 15 to 20 minutes each. We rode one time trial, rested for ten minutes, and then rode the same course again.

For the 1st effort:
Avg. HR: 157
RPE: 7
Time Recorded: 16:49
Distance of Lap: 5.68 miles
Time Adjusted: 18:21 (adjusted proportionally from 5.68 miles to 6.20 miles)

And the 2nd effort:
Avg. HR: 151
RPE: 7
Time: 18:56
Distance of Lap: 6.2 miles

During the first effort, I started my lap timer late, so I rescaled my time based on distance. At the end of the second effort, we were interrupted by a group of riders, which messed up the flow at the end of the course.

Based on those values, Clark calculated training HR zones based on the numbers from the two efforts. From the two HR values, he took the average of the two and called that the OBLA threshold (or Z4). For me, my OBLA value was 154bpm. For Z3, he took 86%-95% of OBLA, 71%-85% for Z2, 60%-70% for Z1 and 105%+ for Z5. Interestingly, the Z4 and Z5 were very similar to zones calculated from the lactate test, but Z1-Z3 had lower numbers in the FTP compared with the lactate test. I’m not sure what that meant, but I expected the lab work to be more accurate. This however provided a baseline to compare future FTPs to.

Route is on Garmin.  If you look at the map and compare it with the HR graph, it is obvious where the route begins and ends. The team also rode an endurance ride after the test, but I ended up doing a solo ride at my own pace. To be honest, I was pretty toast after the two TTs.

…So to recharge, I met up with Kris to pig out at Jack’s Prime. Yes this is a ride report AND a restaurant review. I don’t even remember what we originally were going to eat, but after that ride, all I wanted was meat. Meat and fire. Kris was shocked that I had never been to Jack’s Prime and insisted that it was good, so in the interested of time, he picked me up in downtown San Mateo and we headed over.

It was a nice day so we sat outside in the sunny, but breezy weather. And the weather would have been just fine had I not decided to order a shake to drop my temperatures. And since I did order a shake, noting the “burgers & shakes” under the Jack’s Prime logo,  I followed that decision by moving us back indoors. I ordered a coffee shake and Kris got a vanilla shake. I must have forgotten that I preferred malts, but the shakes were good. We then ordered two burgers to split.

Maytag Blue Ribbon

Key ingredients for this burger are the Maytag blue cheese and the caramelized onions. As a regular hamburger, it was good. The meat was cooked well and the bun was slightly toasted. As a supposed blue cheese burger, I could have used a lot more blue cheese and onions. The onion rings were just normal.

Phoenix from the Flames

This burger came with pepper jack cheese, poblano chilis, jalepenos, red onions, and chipotle mayo. I chose to have my jalepenos fried and I just noticed that “extra fire” is available option, one that I would have chosen.  I didn’t really have any complaints about this burger and I enjoyed the poblano chili and the fried japapenos.  The fries were also pretty standard.

Although I thought their Maytag burger lacked blue cheese, to their credit, it was also slightly cold by the time I got to eating it. Jack’s Prime did have good burgers and I would come back to try some of their other burgers. Kris also claims that the sweet potato fries were good, but I didn’t want to pig out too much and I don’t really like sweet potato… Anyway, Jack’s Prime satisfies that post-ride meat and fire craving.

Post ride satisfaction:  9/10

March 15, 2010

human dyno or… lactate testing – low on power

I took my Lactate Threshold test at the beginning of the month and have been putting off writing it up. After joining the Peninsula Velo Performance Team, Mark, the team coordinator recommended that I take a Lactate test to see where my fitness levels were and to establish heart rate training zones. I had read much about training zones, lactate thresholds, and other training concepts from Joe Friel, Bicycling magazine, and other online sources, but doing testing would allow me to put all of that advice into context.

The test was performed by Peninsula Velo Team Coach Clark Natwick. I was instructed to rest 48 hours before the test so that I would be rested enough to put in a good effort. I took it easy for two days before the test, but I was coming off a slight fever and did not get too much sleep the previous night. I also had not eaten much that day, so I took a gel before and during the test to make sure I wouldn’t bonk.

The first thing we did was the body composition test. After pinching me all over, Clark came up with a body fat percent of 11.5%, which apparently is not bad. I erroneously estimated my weight to be 140lbs, which was about 6lbs off of what it really was. My body fat and weight numbers were good.

After the body comp, I got setup on the Computrainer and warmed up for about 15 minutes. For the test, Clark used a ramp protocol. The protocol dictated that the rider would start at a certain power level of resistance and the power level would be increased after each interval. During each interval, a blood sample was taken to measure the lactate in mMol/L. Clark started me at 130W and increased the wattage by 30W every 4 minutes. (There was a slight hiccup at 160W, which I did for 8 minutes instead of 4 because my ear refused to bleed.) From 130-190W, I felt good, but at 220W, it started to get harder. At 250W, my cadence was dropping below 80rpm and eventually I couldn’t go anymore. I didn’t make it to 4 minutes at 250W.


This was the raw data captured. The things to observe are:

  • We should have started at a lower wattage to get a lactate reading of around 1.0mMol/L.
  • OBLA (Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation) is at 4.5mMol/L, and by 220W, I was over that limit.
  • My heart rate does not go very high.

This table shows the power generated at each Heart Rate. My power to weight ratio at OLBA is 3.3W/kg.

Conclusion: I lack power and I lack pedal efficiency. I need to work on both of those through drills such as single leg pedaling, hamstring pulls, slow frequency repetitions, and high cadence. Also, since I have not built up a proper base, I should start my base period and hold off on racing until I exit the base period. I gained a lot of knowledge talking to Clark, and still am absorbing it all. My next step is to plan and implement a training schedule.

March 10, 2010

sadface suby aka 3rd cylinder misfire

Filed under: cars — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 10:06 AM

Last week, I drove the Subaru to work because I had my lactate test in San Mateo after work. It was raining heavily and 101 was arguably flooded on some sections. When I got to 92, I noticed the power dropped and was very jerky and rough at lower rpms. I exited as soon as I could, but once I got to local roads, the symptoms disappeared. I continued driving locally to confirm that the car was fine, and when I was convinced so, I headed into work.

The car then proceeded to act normally until I exited and the same symptoms returned, but this time the CEL also came on and was flashing. I parked it for now.

Later in the afternoon, Jeffrey took a look and check the code: 3rd cylinder misfire. A bit of researched indicated that the problem might be either water/intake related, plugs/wires/coil related, or worse case-motor related. After we cleared the code, we test drove it again. The car was fine and the CEL did not return.

On the way home, passing by San Mateo again, the CEL DID return and showed the same symptoms again: jerky power, loss of power, rough idle. I hobbled home and parked it. I planned on leaving it for a couple days to see if the symptoms still remained.

On Saturday, I fired up the car, and the car was still acting the same. Time to let a pro check it out… On Tuesday, I made an appointment with LIC, and today I had the car towed up. Let’s hope it’s not something major…

Sad pictures to follow:

boi boi~ 😦

Riding Eastbayway to Mountain view with angry clouds

I was in Alameda on Sunday and I wanted to ride into work on Monday. Instead of wasting an hour BARTing back to Millbrae, I decided to just ride directly from Alameda to Mountain View. The ride distance was surprisingly short (38 miles versus 32 miles from Millbrae) so I wasn’t too worried about the ride. I WAS however worried about surviving both Oakland and EPA solo.  I headed out at 7:30AM and was annoyed to find that my Garmin was out of batteries, depriving me both the ability to monitor my heart rate and to upload my route post ride. Fortunate for me, I had been staring at my HRs all week long and therefore had a rough idea what zone I was in based on my perceived effort.

To minimize getting lost, I made myself a cue sheet:

and taped it to my stem.

Not having ridden in this area at all and having no expectations of the route, I was pleasantly surprised by how bike friendly the route was… up until Hesperian. Bay Farm Island in Alameda was very bike friendly and had plenty of bike lanes and off street paths. In fact, most of the time I was in a bike lane or shoulder until I got to Hesperian.  Hesperian did have some sections of bike lane, but a majority of the street was similar to el Camino – three lane wide with a 35-45mph speed limit.  I would definitely avoid that next time. If I was riding with someone else, I would have been open to do some bay trail exploring.


Before I got to the bridge, I stopped to blow my nose and take some pictures. I thought I was pretty much at the bridge and on my way to Mountain View. Little did I know! Going down Paseo Padre seemed a lot longer then it looked on the map and going up Marsh Rd. to the Bike/Pedestrian walkway seemed to take forever. The road was very bumpy and Marsh Rd. turned West, right into a strong headwind.


Those clouds were sprinkled in the sky all morning long, but the weather the getting warmer and the sun was coming out… until I got to Dumbarton Bridge. When I started climbing up the bridge, the sun disappeared behind the clouds. While the sun was gone, a single angry rain cloud decided try and stop me from crossing the bridge. So it pelted me with raindrops-icicle cold and sharp raindrops. The thick rain created standing water on the road and blurred my glasses and soaked my jacket. It wasn’t supposed to rain today! I tucked myself in and hammered to get off the bridge, and when I finally started descending, the rain let up. By the time I was off the bridge, it had stopped raining.

The rest of the route was the normal Bayway and since I took it easy most of the way, I wasn’t feeling fatigued or sore. Dumbarton was not fun, but I would do it again-rerouting around Hersperian.

Route via Garmin Google maps

March 7, 2010

SF2G Bayway plus Gmap for bikes

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 9:32 PM

Missing out on rides all week long, I did a FFFF SF2G bayway to work on Friday. We rode a standard Bayway route and skipped the BTN. At 7:40, I joined the first two riders:  Gavin and one other. At the water stop we waited for the rest of the group. There were 27 riders! I joined the first group of 5 that left. Eventually, it shrunk down to just me and Gavin, who offered me breakfast courtesy of Google.

By the time we got there (9:40), there was not a lot of food left.  There were mostly donuts, bagels, and fruits left. I went for the bagel, toasted!, instead of the donuts.  While eating and chatting, we asked to participate in a video to promote google maps for bikes.

We rode around in a few circles, got filmed, then almost got run over by the “conference bike”.

Route on Garmin …and yes. My HR stayed in Z2/z3.

March 1, 2010

level up.

Filed under: cycling — Tags: , , , , , , — nekoball @ 3:49 PM

Dear John Luk,

The following request to change your USCF category has been approved and processed by USA Cycling:
nekoball – 2010-02-28 15:52
Member: John Luk
License: Road Racer
Request to change category from Cat 5 to Cat 4

USA Cycling Response from Ron Castia:
Congratulations, you have been upgraded.  If you are racing this weekend in your upgraded category please use the upgrade confirmation from USAC. The “Print Authorization to Ride” button on your account page at http://www.usacycling.org will allow you to use a copy of your upgraded license for up to 30 days.
Good luck and keep the rubber side down.

Ron Castia
Vice President, NCNCA

So I “accidently” upgraded from Cat 5 to Cat 4. Time to get faster.

getting lost via Hillsdale Mudway

Filed under: cycling, ride report — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — nekoball @ 3:38 PM

I was not able to convince anyone to explore San Mateo dirt with me on Sunday, so, not wanting to waste a nice day, I headed out solo to explore the Ammon dirtway route. The plan was to start at Hillsdale Caltrains, follow the trail to Cañada Rd., and then turn back toward Millbrae. I took a few glances of the map and the route and emailed myself directions. I figured that if I got lost, I could easily pull out google maps on my iPhone or look at my directions. EXCEPT. I forgot my phone-But, I had my camera!

Heading West on Hillsdale, I made a left turn and was immediately lost. Luckily or miraculously, I remembered that I was looking for Laurelwood Dr., which led to the entrance to Laurelwood Park. As you can see on the map, I tried three different directions at the intersection of Fernwood St. and 36th St. before I found Laurelwood. After climbing up into the park, I continued upward and tried two exits to the park. I couldn’t really see where else I could go, so I headed up De Anza Blvd, which seemed incorrect because there was no dirt.


Looking down toward Laurelwood Park

Going up De Anza, I turned around at HWY92, because I knew that was wrong, and again at a deadend, because I couldn’t go any further. Eventually, I headed back to the Park and considered my options.  I didn’t have a phone so I couldn’t check for directions or call for someone to get me if I ran out of daylight or ability. So I decided that I should head home… soon. Overlooking the park, I noticed a trail opening on the other side of the grass field. Lets see where it goes!


Mud mud muddy mud.

As soon as I rode past the mountain lion warning sign, I knew I was back on track. Key point: MUD. Not having any idea where to go, I stayed right every time the trail spilt and eventually got to a completely unridable section. I dismounted, hoping to walk through it and got to this:

That picture does nothing to show how steep and sloped that was. I didn’t think I could even hike much further with my now very muddy shoes and decided to head back. I climbed back up De Anza again and headed to Sawyer Camp Trail. With a mile to go, I stopped to make use of my camera, to make up for-not being able to use my phone.

Bike got dirty again.

Compare my route vs Ammon’s route. Next time get lost less please! (or remember to bring your phone)

February 26, 2010

SF2G: Bridge to Leaders

Yesterday was a great day to ride to work. SF2G had four different rides via three different paths: Bayway, Skyline way, and Half Moon Bay way. I decided to go with the 6:15AM Skyline group, well aware of the pace of the xtons and Gaimans of the 6:30AM Skyline group.

Since they were leaving at 6:15, I estimated they would arrive at Millbrae around 7:30. In the morning, I was also tracking Eric via Google latitude. Around 7:10, I saw that he going up the hill on Skyline near Daly City. They were still a while off, so I took my time while monitoring their progress. At 7:25, his location suddenly jumped to South San Francisco. Um, maybe I should get going now! I climbed hillcrest at a hurried pace and intersected with Derrick and Space at the top. Did I barely catch on? I saw a group of about ten mostly familiar faces gathered at the entrance to the Sawyer Camp Trail: xton, Mike Gaiman, Jonathan, Eric, Derrick, Space, Scott, and others. Moments later, another group with Ted, Judd, Mark, and others arrived. We had a nicely sized group… the 6:15 and 6:30 groups must have combined.

Ted, and others stopped at the top of the hill for water, and a few of us headed down the trail first. I followed Jonathan with two others and we cruised to the other side of the trail. It seemed that some of the guys turned around and took the quicker, freeway option because they were already waiting at the exit of the trail for a regroup.

After another short break, we rolled out again. We went up two hills and when we came down the second decent to Canada, the speed of the lead group picked up and the lead group was off. I probably should have been clued in to the acceleration when Scott flew past me on the descent. As we started Canada, Derrick passed me and gave a valiant solo effort to bridge to the lead group. He got really close! Jonathan passed me and I grabbed his wheel. We eventually caught Derrick and we worked together to catch the lead group. By the time we got to Edgewood, Derrick had dropped a chain and the lead group was out of sight. By Woodside, we had caught two riders and Mark had caught on to us. The “leaders” were adding a full Portola Loop to their ride, but we decided to take the path of least resistance down Whisky, Sand Hill, Foothill Expressway, and El Monte. I got to work at about 9:30.

Garmin has my route.

February 25, 2010

Review: Kappou Gomi


We came upon Kappou Gomi purely by chance. After checking out the Cartier exhibit at Legion of Honor, we wanted to get a quick snack before dinner so we drove up Geary until we found parking, then walked around to see what was in the area. To be honest, I was really craving Frjtz’s fries, but considering we were “far” from Mission, we searched for alternate fries or related fried-snack-junk-food.


When we walked past Kappou Gomi, there was nothing memorable about the entrance. It was standard decor for a Japanese restaurant and the window had unattractive copies of the menu taped up… and signs that said NO SUSHI and NO COMBINATION DINNER. What we did notice was that there were groups of people congregating around the front door and checking out the menu. Curious, we took a peek at the menu to discover that the menu was organized not by course, but by type of fish, seafood, or meat. Each item had a heading: Hamachi, Hotate, Uni, Hirame, Toro, etc. Under each heading, the subheading listed the different preparations for that fish. For example, under hamachi, there was hamachi sashimi, hamachi miso, hamachi grilled, etc. No further description was given.

This all seemed very intriguing, but we had planned to go to “Beatles” Yakiniku (Halu), figuring it would be a low key place on Valentines Day. After walking around Geary some more and discovering a tasty Russian bakery (with real Russians inside) as well as an Irish bakery, we were considering going to Kappou Gomi. To help our indecision, we stopped inside a Starbucks to deliberate. A quick search on yelp revealed positive reviews and some delicious looking pictures. NOT helpful. So we decided to flip a coin to decide, and by coin, I mean, I opened up my iPhone dice app and shook the iPhone. Even means  we would go to Kappou Gomi, and odd we would go to Beatles. We “rolled” an odd. YAY, that’s what I wanted anyway.

We drove down about twelve blocks and started looking for parking. After circling a few blocks I thought “Maybe we should see if they are even open”. Damn it, they were closed. Back to Kappou Gomi we went.


We skimmed the large menu. We noted a couple interesting items: grilled uni, panko fried tako, hirame with lime, hamachi with miso, duck sashimi, beef sashimi. The first round, we ordered the panko tako, the hirame yuzu, the kaki golden, and the hotate butter.

The panko fried tako (octopus) came first. The shape and texture made them similar to little chicken nuggets. It was fried nicely but I thought that the tako was a little chewy, either due to it being slightly overcooked or due to the meat being sliced too thick.

The hotate(scallop) butter looked essentially like scallops sautéed in a lot of butter. The taste was very good, but again, it was just barely overcooked for me. The scallops were complemented with a warm noodle and bean sprout stir fry.

The kaki (oyster) golden was pretty good, I think. I honestly don’t remember what it tasted like, but a nicely cooked egg + oyster + lotus root MUST = win right? I think it had pine nuts too.

We ate the hirame (flounder) last in this batch because this dish was cold. The hirame tasted very fresh and went well with the radishes and other veggies. This simple but tasty dish seems like it could be easily replicated at home with fresh ingredients.

Because of the vague menu, we did another search on yelp to see what other people ordered. Someone had posted that the duck sashimi was not as “sashimi” like as they thought, so we crossed that one off the list. Another posted that the grilled uni came with an apple… interesting. We decided to order the grilled uni and the hotaku pot.

The “grilled uni” indeed did come with an apple. I’m not even sure if the uni itself was grilled, but the uni was stuffed inside half of a mostly hollow apple and covered with what appeared to be a steamed egg, with pine nuts. The apple itself was also grilled. This franky, unthinkable combination was awesome. The warm uni was very fresh and tasted heavenly with the egg. The pine nuts added a bit of crunch. The dish felt surprisingly heavy, in a good way. Then, we ate it with the apple.!!! If you told me uni with egg with a cooked apple would taste great together, I would have never believed you in a million years. I hate apples and I hate cooked apples even more, but this was the best dish all night. I don’t think I could describe it well enough to do it justice… but it was really really good.

The last thing we ate was the hotaku pot with seafood. This mini nabe had one large shrimp, one scallop, some slices of octopus, squid?, clams? and some tasty onions and tomatoes. I was really surprised by the quality and freshness of the seafood. Usually in these “seafood” mix plates, they throw in some small junky shimps and clams and call it a day. Not in this pot. Every piece of seafood was fresh and perfectly cooked.

I don’t think we ordered that much food, but after the uni, we were feeling both full and satisfied. My only real disappointment was forgetting to order the beef tataki (sashimi style) and not having the stomach capacity to order more food. Considering how many more items there were to try and how yummi the food was, we definitely plan to return.

The damage was not too bad:

February 22, 2010

Race Report: Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium

Ronde van Brisbeen Criterium
Elite Cat 5,  8:00AM
Team Mates: Dexter, Dean, Martin, Brandon, John, Peter, Dan, Charlie
Place: DNF

I was reasonably prepared for my first real (USCF sanctioned, non Early Bird, and non twilight) criterum at Sierra Point/Brisbane. Last weekend, I rode out to preview the course. Even though I previewed the left turn after the hairpin incorrectly, I had an idea of the flow and bumps of the course, and I knew I would struggle from the hairpin and the two corners following it.

The Men’s E5 race started at 8:00AM, which, luckily for us, meant that we would just miss the rain. I staged close to the front of the start line near the other 8 PV members. Even though the field had a full 50 racers, it seemed small compared to the Sierra Point cross race field of 150 a few months back. The first lap was a rolling, mentor paced lap, and apparently the second lap was the first race lap. I was caught off guard by the acceleration and fell back slightly during the first race lap.

I was very uncomfortable during the first race lap. There were lots of accelerations followed immediately by decelerations, especially leading up to the hairpin and the following left turn.  During the first few laps, I was passed every time I came out of the hairpin. I also felt uncomfortable going through the narrow left-right section after the hairpin. Eventually, I was spit out the back, and I joined a ~5 man group. Shortly after officials pulled us off the course to (rejoin) restart with the pack.

I was not thrilled about the first restart. The officials did not give us the “go” to rejoin the pack until nearly the entire pack was past us. During the Early Birds, we were up to speed well before the pack reached us. The group of us struggled to accelerate enough to catch and stay with the group. Eventually, I was pulled to restart again, and this time I saw teammates Martin and Dan pulled aside as well.

The second restart, they started us before the leaders reached us. This was much better, except I had some trouble getting integrated back into the fast moving group. Although, I got better at hairpin turns toward the end of the race, I was still much slower than most people going into and out of it. I finished the remainder of my laps working together with a Folsom Bike rider.

Overall, I thought the course was technical, but fun. I felt I could have pushed (a lot?) harder, but I felt unconfident making the tight hairpin turn and riding more than 2 abreast through the narrow left-right section. I think I gained a lot of experience for next year’s Brisbane race.

Race mapped on garmin

More pictures on flickr

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