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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rollers Training

I've been riding the rollers quite a bit this year. I didn't ride the rollers today, but I did the three previous days; I was definitely ready for some road riding today.

For me, riding on the rollers started last year when my son and I were going to the track (DLV) to race quite a bit. My son's coach had a rollers workout for him to work on his leg speed. I thought I would give it try too.

It didn't take too long to get fairly comfortable riding rollers. I believe it has more to do with getting over the fear, but it does take practice. Now I'm riding rollers almost once week and I feel pretty comfortable riding on the rollers. I believe that riding on the rollers has helped improve my bike handling as well as my spin. I'm really glad that I committed to riding the rollers on a regular basis.

I had a set of rollers years ago, but I never felt comfortable on them. The set I had at the time had a fork clamp that you could attach so that is what I did. I used my rollers as a trainer. Over the years I have had a few trainers. Most people absolutely hate riding a trainer. I'm not real fond of it and I've always worried about the different stresses that a trainer puts on a frame.

I do like being able to control all the factors of riding a bike though. I find it easier to do a structured workout on a trainer or rollers. I have also found that I can get a pretty good workout this way in a shorter amount of time than I can riding on the road. It is pretty easy to ride under these conditions at a high intensity. I think the longest I've ever spent on a trainer is one hour, 1.5 max. The workouts I'm doing now are 45 minutes.

I currently have two workouts both of which are 45 minutes:
  1. Spin 45 - This workout consist of a 10 minute warm-up followed by a sprint and then almost 4 minutes of a high spin followed by a one minute slow recovery spin for a total of five minutes. Repeat until done trying to increase the cadence each five minutes if possible. It isn't possible for me to spin more than 115 for 4 minutes at this time. On yeah, the gearing is 39x23. The easy spin is done at 95 rpm or slightly higher. The first fast spin after the sprint is suppose to be 100 rpm; each fast spin afterwards is suppose to increase by 5 rpm until you reach the highest you can sustain.
  2. Interval 45 - This workout also starts with a 10 minute warm-up starting in 39x23. For the first interval I only drop down one gear to the 21. I ride this for 4 minutes followed by a 1 minute easy back up to the 23. At fifteen minutes at drop down 2 gears to the 19 and spin at 105 for 3.5 minutes followed by a 1.5 easy spin in the 23. At twenty minutes I drop down to the 17 for 3.5 minutes followed by 1.5 minutes easy in the 23. At 25 I go back to the 19 (2 gears). This repeats until done alternating between the 19 and 17 every 5 minutes. The easy spin is done at 100 rpm or higher depending on how I feel. I try to maintain 105 for the interval section.

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they start riding a trainer or rollers is trying to ride at the same speeds that they do on a road ride. Depending on the device a person is using it just isn't the same; it's an apples and oranges comparison. The resistance is relative to the device. This takes a little experimenting to find out what works. You might have noticed that my workouts start in a 39x23 which is my easiest gear on the bike I'm using for these workouts. Because of the resistance of the rollers I'm using, this works out pretty good for a nice workout, but if I look at the miles I've put on my bike for that 45 minutes it can make me feel like I've not worked hard enough and something must be wrong. Just remember, it is all relative.

It should almost go without saying the different things you need to start with, but I'll create a list anyway. Most of it is obvious, but some of maybe not. I'm still learning too.
  1. Device - yep, pretty obvious. You need either a trainer or rollers. I prefer the rollers. To me a trainer can help a rider get a good workout but it does nothing for bike handling and spinning.
  2. Fan - I have a big fan I put on high when I ride the rollers and it's blowing straight at me.
  3. Headband - Yes, I look like I'm out of the 80's when I ride the rollers, but the headband helps keep the sweat out of my eyes. Riding a trainer or rollers will cause a rider to sweat excessively.
  4. T-shirt - What? My son came up with this one. When I first started riding the rollers I wouldn't wear a shirt. I would sweat so much that I would have a pond under me. If I wear a t-shirt when I ride the rollers I only leave a puddle of sweat under me. This makes clean up easier as I have tile floors.
  5. Music - I have an iPod Shuffle that I listen to when I ride the rollers. The music helps a lot.
  6. Water - I drink a full bottle of water when I do these workouts. At first I didn't because I didn't feel that comfortable on the rollers, but now I do. I think drinking water helps with the workout even if it is for only 45 minutes.

There are several manufacturers of rollers and trainers. I had done some research on rollers a couple of years ago and I decided on the E-Motion Rollers by Inside Ride. These rollers aren't cheap at $850 with free shipping. However this price does compare with other high quality rollers. What makes these rollers different is that they float giving more of a road feeling. This does have a downside in that you can't fold the rollers up; so they are not very transportable like some other rollers are.

I really like our rollers. In fact, I really enjoy riding our rollers. That almost sounds sick, but it's true. I have a trainer too, but I never use it now that I have the rollers. My plan is to continue to train on rollers at least once a week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Battleship Ride 2012

Photo taken by Gil Hernandez

I got to ride the Battleship Ride this past Sunday. There were over 100 total riders that participated. I found it to be a tough ride with the very windy conditions and hillier than I had thought it would be. The ride was well supported I thought.

I had been encouraged by a couple of the regular Firestone and Summit riders to do this ride. We rode over to the start together. The plan had been to stay together, but with so many riders that didn't work out too good.

Photo taken by Liz Schuster

From the beginning I found myself very close to the front. I was able to stay there until the hill coming into Seminole where I found myself near the middle. After the first rest stop things really picked up a bit. There ended up being lots of small groups; the wind and hills did a number on several riders. I ended up riding across the causeway solo into the wind, not fun.

Once at the Battleship I topped off the bottles, grabbed some snacks, got into the group photo then departed. It was very cold with the wind; everyone was freezing and ready to hit the road. We were doing 30+ headed back across the causeway. Of course the hill up to Spanish Fort split people up again. I found myself riding in small groups again because I kept getting dropped on the hills.

Photo taken by Gil Hernandez

I was very glad to reach the last rest stop. My back was really hurting. I regrouped with my Firestone buddies and we headed out with a few other riders for a group of about 16.

I slowly worked my up towards the front. Hwy 90 in Alabama has rumble strips. Those things are really painful and are not a cyclist friend. Once we got back into Florida the rumble strips were gone but then there we the hill which I knew I would get dropped on. Sure enough the group of 16 split into small groups again.

I worked my way back up and took what I thought was a reasonable pull on Hwy 90 after the split with Alt 90. When I pulled off it was just me and one of my training buddies. Everyone else had dropped off. So my buddy and I traded pulls all the way back to the finish. My total ride time was just under six hours.

It was a hard ride, but I am very glad that did it. I had hoped that we would have all stuck together better, but I'm not very surprised that things split up quite a bit. There were so many riders of varying abilities and experience.

It has been interesting talking to people since about the ride. Most people I've talked to enjoyed it. I did talk to some people today that had gotten dropped very early on. Apparently the pace was a lot different at the back than it was at the front. I thought we were doing a reasonable pace of 17-18 at the start. People were talking and we were riding a double paceline. But the story from the back is that we were doing 26 mph. I will admit that maybe it was a bit of a quick start, but honestly believe that the people at the front were trying to keep a study reasonable pace; at least until the first rest stop. After the first rest stop everything went a bit crazy. I even heard stories of some people riding 21 mph into the wind across the causeway where I had slowed to 11 mph. For some people this was their first attempt at a century. I don't think this was the ride for a first attempt unless you were with a committed group. It's just too early in the year and the weather just wasn't that good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Group Rides

There was a bit of division in the Firestone and Summit Saturday ride this past weekend. The wind was wicked and if a rider got dropped, then that rider was in purgatory. You can read some comments here from that blog. During some portions of the ride the group stuck together pretty good, but then in others it divided into two groups. The division wasn't so much about ability as it was circumstance and taking risks. On such a windy day it probably would have been better to stick together as one group instead of dividing.

It does bring about the question of can everyone get something out of a group ride? The answer is yes of course. There is a very good article on the USA Cycling website that addresses that very question.

Lately on the group rides I find myself getting dropped here or there. If I don't get lucky due to a traffic light or something, then I might not catch back up. The attitude seems to be that's ok. Sometimes it is ok. There are places in every group ride where things naturally split apart only to regroup later. Often times these places are pretty close to the rest stops or near a natural place of regrouping. But, in the last few months riders are getting dropped early and there doesn't appear to be much concern about that.

While I'm complaining, here is another complaint about group rides. When the rider takes over the pull and speeds up. This often times causes the riding who was pulling to get dropped because he can't match the acceleration to attach onto the back of the group. I do see where there is a natural tendency to speed up but not 2-3 mph faster; that's just not very considerate. If the rider wants to pick the pace up that much higher then at least wait until the person who had been pulling to get back onto the group.

That's enough of my complaining about life on the group ride. The temps dropped for the weekend. Looks like they will rise for this coming weekend.