Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day weekend

After two awesome rides over the weekend (one 4 hr ride with 1 hr threshold and 2.15hr tempo and the other a 2.5 hr tempo off road ride) I had a little juice left in the legs to get out and ride on Memorial Day. Thanks to the ones who have fallen for our freedom we got this Monday off. Monday was gloomy when the clouds rolled in. Ten minutues into the ride it started to rain. Being that it was 65 degrees it felt kind of nice. In the back of my mind I secretly wanted to ride all day. I didn't. What I did come up with is one leg of a 150 + mile mostly off road ride. 4.10hrs later I was home, with a good idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend of riding

Like two stale pieces of bread, my legs pushed the pedals as I thought about heading back from what would be a nice ride. I kicked up the cadence and just chilled. I haven't done this route in a while. Up to Villa Park, west on the Great Western Trail and head back on the Praire Path. My ride took less time than I planned, which was ok with me. 2:30. I guess not having snow to ride through makes a difference.

Oh yeah Monsters of the Midway was yesturday. I rode up on Cermak, hit the lake off of MLK Dr. saw a dude stuck under a truck. Watched some racing. Rode tempo back into the wind. I meant to take pictures but that never happened. I was tired on Monday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recovery Week

This week is a recovery week. I was thinking about what is a recovery week. Most importantly why do I feel so stale the first couple rides when I get back. Hmm maybe I should have shaken it up at least once or twice during the week. Nothing crazy but something to get the blood pumping and the muscles contracting. In store this week is a SCW Ride, high cadence spinning, the introduction to plyometrics and a some tempo but nothing taken too seriously.

So today was the SCW Ride. The Tuesday night practice crit at the Ace Hardware. This was it. Just what I needed. The pace was high enough where I could sit in at the front and get a good work out in. I did take a couple pulls and found myself in the back 1/4 of the field and had to work back up. No attacking just riding. In the back of my head was "just cool it, sit in, get a work out in and save it for next week." Each lap averaged about 26 mph with a pretty stiff head wind on the open two sides of the one kilometer four corner track.

Earlier today I started to do some more leg work outs which I plan on doing twice a week. Mostly jumping around and trying to recruit some fast twitch muscle fibers. Right now I feel good. I am looking forward to yoga tomorrow and a chill high cadence off road ride on Thursday.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Out for a Spin

I look forward to Fridays for more than just the obvious reason. Besides the fact that it is the start of the weekend, Friday is the day that have I set aside for my recovery ride. Something about just spinning around, not worrying about zones or how fast I need to go, really compliments the atmosphere of a Friday evening.

These recovery rides are good for a few reasons.

1. The route I take is different than my training routes which is stimulating.
2. Low speed high cadence is almost like a massage to the legs.
3. It is refreshing just to be on a bike and ride.

I like Friday recovery rides because I get a break from the hard work out on my Thursday race days and enjoy the rest before my weekend hammer fests.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Day For Testing

Originally I posted that I was going to test once a month. Sure that is what I am doing. It is just that I am not doing it on the weekend of my recovery week. I guess it didn't make sense to me. So now I do it on the 3rd week of the training ?cycle? What-ever. Kinda actually sounds like I take it serious or something. So back to the course. 1/2mph faster this month so I guess the training is off to a good start. Oh and I saw a snake at the end of the ride. I guess that means good luck.

"Good luck Cliff"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wieners and Wheels

After riding the Naperville Ride yesterday and talking to Ken, I knew what had to be done. I needed to ride out to the ride-do it-ride home. So I woke up this morning, rode some recon, came home 79 miles later, very happy. This is it. This is the new Saturday ride.

1.15 hrs till I meet the ride from my place.

Throttle it.

Come back hungry.

Today I just cruised. Nothing serious. Just recon. I came back home 3.45min after I left.

Val and I went to the Wiener Circle and it was good.

Hot Dogs, Cheese Fries, large Pepsi served wit' attitude.

Oh Yeah we went to the Zoo as well.

Oh yeah 8 quaters for 2 hours...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One Step at a Time

It is all about trial and error...or what ever. 2 weeks into my build phase of training and I feel great! Base riding was a blast now I have to work for my money. Obviously I don't take it too serious and I am not too rigid but there is structure masked in a nonchalant haze. Anyways I am looking for a good group ride to attend on Sat. One that is not on the normal routes I take....The Naperville Ride.

Oh yeah and I just bought 5lbs of carrots! It is so on!

Monday, April 27, 2009

flatlandia race prevails

I am totally stealing this picture form a friend.

Last weekend was flatlandia's premire road race. Road races in this area are rare but we were luckly enough to pull it off. Even though the course was pancake flat the wind and spotty turential downpours with a one mile dirt road made it a strong mans course which blew each field apart!

Ted's blog explains it well....

Monday, April 13, 2009

I&M Canal

After the I&M Canal path being closed at 135th st. going westbound for the winter, the chain linked fence doors are back open.

3:30 from home to rockdale and back with out having to push it.

Next stop...Starved Rock

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Batavia Ride Plus Madison

Windy but unexpectedly satisfying!

After mapping out a ride in Batavia I headed out.

I didn't realize how windy it was outside.

This 70 mile ride is now one of my favorites. Windy or Not!

Last week, Val and I went to Madison for the weekend. I rode hard on sat and I brought the bike up to ride on Sunday. Well there was a blizzard and I brought the wrong I slept in at the hotel.

On that Saturday, Val and I ate good food. A small list is below.

Buffalo Chicken burrito with Pork Skins.
Tomato Basil Cheese Curds.
Kalamata Olive Puree Pizza.
Yippee Skippee Wisconsin Ice Cream
Prime Rib


We also went on a cool tour of their Capital Building.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Trying to Sail By

Even though it is officially spring, as I am writing this as I am thawing out from an early morning slush ride. Sure enough, it is still snowing out there. Today I had a plan. The plan was similar to yesterday. Get out before it gets bad and if it gets bad while you are out there, well, you knew it could happen.

Yesterday it was going to rain, late morning to early afternoon. It was going to rain and be in the lower 40's. Being cold I can deal with, being wet can be very tranquil but when they are combined it is misery. Even through there was a ride that went out early in the morning I had other obligations and wouldn't be able to go out till 1.5 hrs after they departed. So I followed my plan to get out, ride tempo, hurry up the hills, and get in before the rain. Mission accomplished. 3 hours of riding on/off road fixed gear 42-16 and a drop off rain fell on my jersey. It was incerdibly windy though! I went to the store to buy some veggies and rain drops hit the windshield.

This morning. The plan was to get out and ride in the snow. Yeah it is snowing again. Ride easy and enjoy the snow but be back before it turns to rain. Hmmmm. I woke up and started riding well before sunrise. The flakes were big and wet and there were many! The ride itself was smooth. Gliding over freshly fallen snow is peaceful; not being able to see out of my glasses because they are caked with slush, frustrating! I slide my glasses down to the tip of my nose, squinted slightly and rode. It wasn't but 30 seconds later that I took a snow flake to the eye and was seeing double as a tear fell down my cheek and I rode off in to the grass. The road soon turned to slush. I left my neoprene socks at home. My chain started to feel rough. Excuses as to why I should go home flood my brain. But I don't just yet because I knew this was a possibility and I do like to suffer on the bike. It feels good on some level. I do however start to notice a rough feeling in my drive train again. Is the bottom bracket worn, is my rear cog misaligned, is my chain worn? What if my pedals fall off when I am way out here in the snow/slush and I get stranded? Let me just take it on in. Mission failed. I rode about 90min and returned with my tail between my legs but I thought to myself at least I am returning with a bike completely intact.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

In the beginning of winter, well when cyclocross season ended, I started to run. I rode once a week but ran for the most part. After a couple months of running I really got the itch to get back on the bike. There was definitely a transition period where my legs needed to get reacquainted to the pedals. For the last few weeks I have been getting in some base miles with the bike. Which all led up to today. The first test of the season.

The test site is the canal path off Willow Spring Rd. heading west for 10k and back.

The plan.

Ride how I feel. The feeling I was looking for was something hard, comfortable but hard. I was looking for something that would make me work for it but be able to keep a steady pace and just roll.

The results.

Well...I inadvertinatly hit the stop button instead of lap. What was I thinking? I did it on both Garmins! Luckily enough Gary was riding along and he gave me his data which I can work with.

Maybe next moth I will do better...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Into the City

Getting into the city.

Plan A.

1. Follow the "Q" East to Oak Park Ave.

2. Take it North to South Ave (Turns in to Lake Street but the most obvious land mark is the "EL.")

3. Follow the "El" directly East downtown.

Plan B.

1. Take Ogden Ave north east into the city.


How do they compare?

Plan A is longer than Plan B.

Plan B has a side street less traveled off Ogden Ave.

Plan A has a side street that has medium travel.

Plan B side street is rugged, totally beat up.

Plan A is very "local."

Plan B has one busy section that is not so well lit when you go under the over pass.

Plan A takes you right downtown.

Plan B brings you to UIC.

When you do decide to take a route, plan A, B or the one you make up, go and take a look at the latest headline of the Onion.

This one was located on the North West side of Clark Ave, across the street from Wrigley Field.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why I like the Country

Sometimes it is worth getting in the van and heading out to the country. Sure you may have to wake up way before the sun comes up and shuffle off to ride at day break but when you're flying down those secluded roads it is almost impossible to tear that smile off your face. So I made a quick list.

1. Farm dogs make unexpected sprints points.

2. Low traffic.

3. The traffic there is, waves.

4. No stopping!

5. Clothes dry on a line.

6. Barns have big old American flags painted on 'em.

Funny thing, growing up I hardly did what I was told. Today was no different. "Road Closed" -eh not for me.

As I headed down the road, which I was not supposed to be on, I came across a flooded river that spilled across the road. After traveling all the way out here, when I found a map online which I downloaded to my gps that led me to ride a course that I have never seen before, I was not about to turn around and go back. So...I took off my shoes, socks, knee warmers; I shouldered my bike and held my shoes in my hands and headed into what would be water colder than than crossing it was worth. If that last sentence made little sense, what I meant to say was... As a waded through the flooded river I came to the realization that it was extremely cold! (I guess there was snow on the groud a few weeks ago) I did a cost benefit analysis (in the middle of the over flow) I came to the conclusion that the water was so cold that it was not worth going all the way through to only have to do it again at the next flooded section soon after. So, I turned around and headed back. Like a big old chicken.

I did find a detour and was back on track soon enough. Soon enough to see this cute little black and brown weiner dog chasing me with its stubby little legs and the high pitch bark. Suddenly I heard some more barks, this time deeper. I saw three dogs. They were black and brown, true. Although they were not cute or had small stubby legs. No they were rottweilers and they were chasing, fast! They wanted blood. My chuckle turn into ah...not a chuckle and I turned on the steam.

Country riding is for me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Riding into the Countryside with Val's New Energy Bar

It has been a while since I have made my way into the country. Today I headed out with Val's macadamia nut cereal, honey and peanut butter energy bar. The 85 mile ride out to Yorkville and back was as smooth as silk and the new energy bar was a hit!

This route needs some massaging but for the most part it kept me guessing what was around each corner and at each turn there was a welcoming surprise. I have done an out-and-back of part of this course before but since I am for the most part, anti out-and-back, I relied on my Garmin for an impromptu course re-routing.

Val's bar was probably sweeter than the ride but I am up for a re-match! Now I just have to make sure I don't eat them when I am not on the bike!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cross Avenger

Finally...I have been trying to fit this ride in since last year. The "Cross Avenger," is similar to a road ride because of its length but more importantly the ability to let it all hang out. This course is mainly on 2 different path systems where no cars are allowed and there is not a stop sign in sight. This is really a luxury since downtown Chicago is only a stones throw to the east. For Illinois, 1440 feet of climbing on a 50 mile ride is also gratifying. You also can fit in the refinery loop in Christain Vande Velde country with out laying rubber on Lemont Rd. Make sure to straddle the cross bike since 1/4 of the ride is off road which makes you work for your money.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sputtering Out

I drew many similarities between my road ride yesterday and the final kilometers of Stage 3 of Paris Nice.

1. They both were wet. Sure that was lame.
2. My late winter form reminded me of Langeveld off the front with the chase group (summer form) closing in when ever they want. (My summer form, ten fold doesn't come close to any kind of form these guyys have, don't get me wrong.)
3. My sprint resembled Flecha's, sputtering out and like an old Ford Pinto low on fuel. I told my self, as I coasted through the sprint point, that I was sprinting into wind and I went out too soon. Although as I headed back east I was now in the wind. There was no excuss other than I need to work on sprinting.

As for my first road ride of the season I went out disconnected from technology. My wrist had only company of a Casio calculator watch. I have been on many rides this year but none on a road bike. Fixed gear-yeah, Mountain bike-yeah, Cyclocross bike-yeah, Road bike-nope.
I forgot how smooth the Merlin Works bike is. It really rides like silk.
Now that it is warmer and the sun sets at 7 I will be on the Merlin working on that sprint, well among everything else.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Windy Riding.

This weekend the temperature refused to go above freezing and the wind blew like mad. We still rode. On the surly, I put in 120 miles, 90 into the wind. It was a satisfying weekend. The routes we no different than the ones prior but the company was second to none.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bee's Knees of Winter Riding.

We don't have much for elevation here in the Midwest. What we do have is wind and snow. When the two mix it isn't much fun but with out it, it wouldn't be the same.

I do like the freshly fallen powder snow, especially when I sail through it on my single speed set up. This weekend I had plans to go mountain biking on trails in Palos but when I woke up to see a nice blanket of snow on the ground below, I scratched that idea because I do not know those trails well enough. What I do know is the Centennial Trail to the Waterfall Glen snow ride loop that Gary and I found last year.

The C trail is paved. This makes for smooth sailing. Although cadence in the snow on a single speed bike is about 60-70rpm with a 38x18. After crossing Lemont Rd. you start a short climb into Waterfall Glen, the back way. This leads you up to the air plane hill which has a switchback descent. The trail ends with a steep climb up the hidden hill and ends on little Bluff Rd.

From my house the route is only 30 miles but well worth the solid tempo pace, having to work for it the entire time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Connecting Paths Early in the Year

I was looking forward to connecting different path systems this weekend for a long and enjoyable ride. In the past I have been on most of the trails but really never rode them in a continuous loop. This proved to be an adventure worth embarking.

The ride.

This route is comprised of crushed limestone and paved paths. The crushed limestone parts are secluded and make you work for your speed. The paved sections have nice scenery but have potential to be crowded on days with nice weather. There is a residential area that you will ride through but the streets are wide enough to ride two abreast comfortably.

When I left the house my mind was flooded with the ride from the day prior. It was a little windy which made it feel colder than what it really was but when the wind was at our backs it was rather pleasant. For whatever reason I thought today would be the same, well it wasn’t. An hour into the ride my bottles froze and my clif bar was iced-solid. I rode many times in the cold but I haven’t had my drinks freeze in about 2 years. I guess because I wear a camelbak when the temperatures dip below freezing. This totally slipped my mind completly. So I drank some slush as a found my way through the snow covered trail.

I soon met up with the Prairie Path and headed over to the Fox River Trail cruising down the river. I liked the trail. Some of the turns were tight and I know of the potential for it to get crowded in the summer. I followed the trail and when I got to the fork in the road I took the Batavia Spur.

I haven’t been on this part of the trail before and it actually made my day. At this time I still failed to stop at a store to get some fluids in my system and at 3 hours plus, I was way over due. There are many spots to stop along the Fox. The Batavia spur cut through residential areas and bordered Fermi Lab all on crushed limestone. Soon I found myself paralleling the East-West Toll way 88. I never knew this existed. This trail exited on Diehl Rd. which gave me the option to go up Wheaton or south to North Aurora. Neither of them was where I wanted to go so I took residential streets through Naperville, Lisle, and Downers Grove to get home.

I have plans on doing this route again. Today it took 4.45hr for 72, mainly off road, miles. Most likely I will do it when my bottles do not freeze.