nekoballs

March 25, 2010

PV Field Workout: Going up and coming down + Dosa

We had another clinic this Saturday – for climbing and descending. I’ll briefly summarize what we went over:

Climbing

  • Keep cadence above 70rpm minimum
  • Alternate between sitting and standing
  • While seated: hands on tops, use hamstrings, open chest for better breathing
  • While standing: rpm above 70rpm, hands on hoods, do not stick out butt, head and shoulders up high-not hunched over, arms should be mostly straight, bike can “dance” a bit, on the down stroke, keep feet flat instead of toe pointed downward

Cornering

  • Look ahead, eye on apex and exit.
  • Hands on drops, tucked very low for more weight on front wheel and control of front wheel.
  • Exaggerate knee leaning.

We rode over to Canada College for our clinic and the backside has a surprisingly nice and short climb and descent. We started with 4 climbs from the bottom, near Canada rd. to the parking lot at the top. The first climb, we climbed mostly seated and stood up once when we were told. On the second climb, we stood up twice when instructed to do so. On the third climb, we went together as a group and this hurt me the most trying to keep up with Dexter and Peter. Finally, for the last climb we went up at our own individual pace. We focused mostly on technique and posture. Some of the advice is obvious, but you hear the advice differently when you have someone shouting at you when you are doing something wrong. Anyone who got caught standing and pedaling with toes pointed downward was deemed a ballerina.

We planned on practicing the descents on the Southern most side of Canada College, but because the inside of that turn had loose gravel, we practiced on the same road as the climb. We went over technique, but my main problem was my cornering speed. I have known that my cornering speed is slow and because I am not very fearless, so I will have to slowly work up my confidence and comfort to increase my speed through corners. We ran through the corner about 16 or so times.

After the clinic, we rode as a group back to HWY92 and from there, I did a solo aerobic ride to SF to meet up with Nyanko for lunch. My route was tracked by Mr. Garmin. Since we were in the area, we headed over the Mission to grab lunch. For some reason, I thought Ike’s Sandwiches were in the Mission, but they obviously weren’t (ok ok, it isn’t that far from the Mission, but we had a really good meter free parking spot on Valencia!) so we ate at Dosa instead. We have walked past Dosa more than a few times, both on Fillmore and also on Valencia, so today we decided to give it a try.

We assumed their dosa and uttapam would be different from the traditional type (not that we really know anything about traditional Indian food), so we ordered a chaat, dosa, and uttapam.


Dahi Batata Puri Small hollow crispy breads filled with Strauss organic yogurt, potatoes & mint & tamarind chutneys

Honestly, I had no idea what this would be like, but key words that made me order this were small, crispy, potatoes, and puri. Yes Puri, which apparently is not pronounced “pu ri” like Japanese, but “purr ee”, like an American trying to read furigana. That was how the waitress pronounced it, but she could be wrong! When they arrived, we were told the best way to eat them was with your bare hands because, as I soon found out, they sort of crumble and implode into themselves. They were very hollowed little pastries that were filled with all sorts of yogurt, potatoe, and chutney flavor. I liked the idea and the pastry, but I thought there was a bit too much filling, and a bit too many flavors. More potato could have helped too.


Paper Masala A thin, pliable and crispy variation, served with spiced Indian potatoes, onions and cashew nuts

I really liked their dosa. As advertised, it was very thin and crispy and came in one long rolled sheet. The potato filling was on the side and tasted fairly standard, but the dosa tasted great with the coconut chutney and sambar.


Sunny Side or Over Easy Uttapam Tomato, onion & chile uttapam topped with two organic eggs, sunny side up or over easy

The uttapam that we have had in the past was more like a stuffed thicker dosa, but this one had a texture similar to an chinese potato pancake. Although in general it was good, the spiciness was not mixed out well and some pieces were much spicier than others, so much so that it overwhelmed some flavors. It did however go nice with the egg.

Conclusion: Dosa is very flavorful, but it is a bit on the spicy and pricey side.
Post ride satisfaction:  6/10

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March 22, 2010

PV Field Workout: Sprint till you’re sick

On Saturday(two Saturdays ago), Clark held a short sprint clinic with the Performance Team. I woke up later than I intended to, so I drove to 92 x Canada to be on time. Since the WRX was getting fixed, I drove the corolla and somehow tetris’d the bike into the backseat. I had originally planned to ride there, but there were plenty of miles to come that day… After a quick chat, we headed South on Canada. Since a few of us drove there, we did a nice long warm up – a proper long warm up is very important for sprint drills.

After our warm up, we stopped just a few meters north of the Edgewood x Canada intersection. This is where we started rolling. The course was simple. From the start, we headed northbound cruising at around 20mph. Once we got to the bicycle Sunday sign, we started our (uphill) 250m sprints. How do you know when you’ve reached 250m? On the shoulder, the ground was marked at 100m, 150m, 200m, 250m, and 300m in small white text. When you hit the 250m, shift to your small ring and keep pedaling.

The goal was to aim to sprint to 250m, but minimally sprint to the 200m. A few things I remember us discussing were:

  • When standing for your jump, your hands should be near the end of the drops so that your pinky sticks out to get maximum leverage.
  • Use your jump to accelerate and when you spin out, sit down and increase rpms to continue accelerating.
  • Try to stay aero when you sit down, obviously.
  • Find the right gear for the course. It may take a few tries for you to find the right gear. Too low and you will spin out, but too high and you won’t have enough power to push it.
  • Never sprint on your hoods. If you Clark catches you sprinting on your hoods or tops, you owe him $100, seriously! (and not in girl scout cookies)

We planned on doing sets of 4 sprint efforts with 4 minutes of rest in between each. At the end of the set, we rested for 10 minutes and did a second set. Clark had some comments about our sprints. For Martin and me, we had “zero jump”- Ouch. For others, the jump was too wild (front wheel moving around too much). My average top speed for the 6 out of 8 runs was 29.2 mph and my fastest sprint to 30.9mph occurred on the sprint immediately after the 10 minute break. By the 6th run, I was not far from wanting to throw up. On the last run, we did a group sprint with Clark leading us out… except he sort of just took off and dragged us along. Overall, it was a potentially vomit inducing drill, but I felt like I was holding back a bit since I had to ride to Novato after.  To properly do the drill however,  you shouldn’t be holding back so maybe a bit being of sick is inevitable.

Route is of course uploaded.

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.

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

February 21, 2010

Joined Team Peninsula Velo / Pomodoro + Time Trialing

This season, I have been looking for a local cycling team to join that would develop my fitness and racing. I inquired with Peninsula Velo, Roaring Mouse, and Third Pillar. Weighing my options, I decided to go with Pen Velo. Additionally, I joined their Performance Team to get in on some coaching and skill clinics.

This Saturday, I met some members of the team for a time trial clinic. We started off practicing starts with both feet clipped in (with a person holding your bike). The first try, I started in too high of a gear and found it hard to accelerate. The next round, we rode a 5 mile ITT on Canada Road from 92 to Pulgas Water Temple and back. After being thoroughly wasted, from the wind and the hill, we then split up into groups and rode a 4 man TTT along the same route. The pace was fast, but not uncomfortable. For the first half of the course, we did 30 second pulls. and after the turn around point, we pulled harder 20 second pulls. When we got within 25% to the finish, we did very hard 10 second pulls. Since we were simulating a 4 man TTT, where the third rider’s time is counted, I dropped off before the finish after taking my final pull.

So after we did two TT’s, where we yelled at told to go essentially 100%, we did a 30 mile ride along the normal PV route. We had a mellow double paceline going until we got to Alpine, where our group dropped to six and the speed went up considerably. Coach Clark, made sure I was ok staying with them and I did… barely. I nearly got dropped going up Aratradero Rd, but I was able to hang on all the way back to HWY92… and even contribute to the paceline.

Overall, it was a good first meeting with the team. I thought the clinic was good, and the coach was knowledgeable, and the other PV members were friendly. I got in a nice long ride too, but maybe it was a bit too much mileage the day before a race.

Here is the route via Garmin

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