Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Race Of The Year

Thanks to Bryan Vaughan from the northern Virginia-based Haymarket team, I've included some great helmet camera footage of our first race of the year.  

This was taken at Richmond International Raceway, Saturday, February 27th.  At 28 MPH average speed, it was quite fast.   These last 10 laps included in the footage were well over 30 MPH and in each turn onto the backside stretch, the head wind was brutal.  I know of no other video which conveys the actual experience as well as this one!  Enjoy.

Richmond Raceway Crit - P/1/2/3 - Last 10 laps from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blanton's Balance

Who says you can't drink one bourbon on the rocks the night before a hard ride?  After reading this, you'll notice that I've done so.   

In all honesty, as the tooth lengthens, it seems much more important to introduce/collate the vices within my life. Getting to sleep at 10 o'clock, hydrating to the appropriate levels, and having fifteen hours on the bike a week are much more of a secondary focus as I age. Funny how the years have re-shaped my psyche.

Don't misunderstand me.  There is still a very concerted effort taking place with work and some of my more healthy, extracurricular interests.  Yet, life's just too damn short. Tonight was one of those evenings which grounded me to that thought process; taking a breath and relaxing into what's truly important in life. Our friends, family, a very nice glass of bourbon, a well made meal, and intimate conversation all seem lost at times when mired in the mundane...but I digress.  As I sit here, chipping away at my Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate and listening to Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour Of The Wilderbeast, I'm gently reminded that one of my most highly regarded activities is quickly approaching. The first competition is called Go Fast, Turn Left on February 20th at Southside Speedway.

Care of Rogues Racing Team

It's a wonderful venue, albeit small.  Athough just a training race in stature, the seating allows spectators to see all aspects of the race unfold.    

After mixing bourbon, chocolate and good music with fantasies of my upcoming racing adventures, a barrage of foreboding thoughts creep inward.  These tend to consist of the pain involved with training, how much needs to be accomplished, etc...  Unfortunately, inclimate weather has placed a damper on my outdoor riding lately.  When the winter storms tend to grace us racing folk with snow, ice, et. al., there's the inevitable necessity of riding the trainer. This is especially so when one must somehow fit their training into a work day.  During my initial competitive endeavors, never did I imagine spending so much time on something as ridiculous as an indoor trainer. Unfortunately, I must become intimately acquainted with that beast again early tomorrow morning. I do not like it, not for a moment, but am aware of the necessity. 

For a brief glimpse of the experience, please review the attached video example of an indoor trainer

My approach tomorrow morning will be as follows:

  • Eat light.
  • Drink copious amounts of strong coffee.
  • Place European Spring classics race into DVD player (probably 03 Paris-Roubaix).
  • Expend approximately 2 minutes of energy placing mind on exactly what type of structured efforts will be conducted while watching the race.
  • An example~A 15-30 minute spin warm-up, then begin pyramid sub threshold efforts at around 160-ish heart rate at 95 RPM cadence, which will include a 1 minute effort in conjunction with 1 minute at 125-130 heart rate of rest, then a 2 minute effort, then a 2 minute rest period at above rest rates, etc..until a 6 or 7 minute effort is reached.  Once the peak of the pyramid is acheived, then decline will begin back down in length of efforts until 1 minute is finalized.  Top it off with a 10-20 minute cool down.
  • Drink protein shake.
  • Pretend that I am a working professional the rest of the day.

There are many variations of this particular workout, not discounting the part where I am a working professional.  A perfect segue into the subject of balance.  I'm reminded of the picture below and when I had little of it.  Below are some wonderful memories that I very much enjoy revisiting.  However, I'm even happier of late standing atop the fulcrum. 

Seigler Racing Team-Circa 2006
From left to right: Mason Haymes, Tim Powell, Keck Baker, Jon Gaudio, Tony Hall, Shawn Tunstall,
Pete Whitlock and The Blogger

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Short Of Silly...

...yet, very enjoyable.  I'm laughing as I write this, due to the haze this weekend's training session has left me in. Today's ride was somewhat of a joke, but I still spun it out, allowing for a nice break from the previous week's regimen.

The last big training day of a 3 week phase: 5 1/2 hrs. and 90 miles of mountains.

I actually felt wonderful throughout the day, even though during the first half hour or so, I was loathing the ride. The kind of know the kind. Ones which conjure up all sorts of worrisome delusions; cramps, bonking (complete glycogen depletion or hitting the wall) and the possibility of wrecking during a descent. None of these things happened and usually never do. I emphasize "usually".

A ride of this type really tests levels of fortitude and also genuinely allows the mind to wander in places it normally wouldn't. This is how it is for me anyway. Thoughts like clouds tumbling through the wind, slowly passing by. Sublime and very much a dream state of sorts. The imagination, projections and the recounting of experiences play out more slowly. Similar to a perfected meditation. From what my guide tells me of meditation practice (yes, I do meditate, although somewhat sporadically), thoughts should be observed while allowing the breath to pass naturally with no attachment to them. This is by no means an easy task while practicing sitting meditation. On occasion, I'll find myself laughing at how ludicrously difficult the task can be. However, while on the bike and surpassing high levels of fatigue, it is quite the pleasant experience and seemingly easier than ever. I actually practice breathing techniques while riding, especially so during the difficult climbs, monitoring the heart rate all the while. This helps to control energy expenditure by maintaining a lower heart rate during high levels of power output, inevitably decreasing the amount of glycogen used. This is what most endurance athletes strive to achieve.

Try this:

When going into the climb, maintain a steady drawing breath that's very controlled, focusing on heart rate. As the heart rate starts to increase, really begin to focus on the breathing pattern and try to maintain a steady breath rate. Deep and deliberate, but not too fast. There will be a difference in the spiking of your heart rate during intense, steady power efforts, if these patterns are consistently monitored. Focusing in such a way will teach the body to be more efficient in using oxygen as an energy source. It may even allow you to become more in tune and attentive to your thought patterns while you’re at it (that is, if you wish to be).

I was practicing the above technique on each of the climbs profiled below. It made for a much more enjoyable experience, yet still painful.

The picture shows us approaching the inevitable; the distance and the altitude of the climb.


"A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us."

Pema Chodron

Breathe through it friends.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sleep, sleep...what importance it brings...

This came to mind, given I'm in the last week of a phase of periodic training before my rest week.  It never seems to fail.  During those last few days, when one's body is over worked and on the brink, it's normal functions seem to waiver and test fortitude.  A bitter sweet process. 

Sleep is the one that goes first for me.  I tossed and turned last night, reminding myself of the rest week to come...and the strength that it will bring moving forward.  Life's simple little gifts. 

And this to share from a dear loved one (thank you John):

"Innocent sleep. Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."........

Macbeth: Act II, Scene II
"Chief nourisher", I'll look forward to your visit this evening. 

Illustration credited to The Kona Life Blog

The Beast Of Beasts

Hello to all.  I have been racing bikes for approximately 15 yrs.  God, it seems an eternity.  Some would call me an elite level, competitive cyclist (Category 2).  Funny; after hearing that term being tossed around over the years, my prowess seems to have withered a bit.  I'm 40 now and still training as if I were in my 20's.  Any number of excuses could be made for my inevitable decline; the "natural evolution of the aged cyclist", a loss of testostorone, those little "life things" that one has to attend to.  I still push forward, however carthatic, painful, and quite pleasing it tends to be.  Here's a bit of that to share. 

This was a wonderful, albeit painful day of climbing to include the attached Bent Mt. picture (front side).  One of the few climbs I did that day in the Roanoke Valley area.  I've also included a Google map of the route.  I hope you all find it interesting.  I certainly did.