Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choo Choo

The Little Miami Scenic Path is one of the longest bike paths in the country — just two miles from my front door. Without the path I may have been too scared to ride in traffic and I probably wouldn't be who I am today — I may have stayed overweight. Or I might have gotten used to traffic quicker without the path and I would be a faster racer now... I dunno.

Anyway, the path is nice for those days where you want to turn off the mind. Just chill and observe, or if it isn't too busy it's a great place for intervals, just flat rolling tarmac. Or if the weather is bad and you don't feel like dealing with traffic.

With storms on the horizon I scrapped my first ride idea of riding to Augusta, Kentucky taking a ferry and riding back on the Ohio side. North seemed safer, more out-of-reach from the storms. I was wrong, but I got a couple dry hours in.

I like to fly along on the old, paved rail line; churning my legs like I'm a crazy locomotive just trying to maintain the fastest pace I can. I felt okay today, a little fatigue robbed me of some of my top end. I was averaging over 19.2 in the first half but a little bonk slowed me down for a bit. I was still over 19 mph average when the final hill to my house kicked me in the teeth!

I'm just trying to get some speed endurance for Mohican. That race has me shaking in my boots. In the past I have used a similar workout to build some base fitness and speed endurance:

04/23/2011 Rainy Century TT, started from home
101.00 mi.
18.91 avg mi/hr

03/20/2010 Dropping off Posters to Phil in Xenia
94.16 mi.
17.22 avg mi/hr

09/04/2009 My first century ride
100.20 mi.
18.28 avg mi/hr
129 avg Heart Rate
153 (watts) (avg) 645 (watts) (max)
Notes 30 min interval = 216 watts 1 hour wattage = 189 Did another 30 minute interval on return.

06/15/2008 71 Miles on the Little Miami Scenic Trail
71.50 mi.
17.09 avg mi/hr
160 lbs/ 3,562
149 avg Heart Rate

09/03/2007 Newtown to Lebanon (back when I was just getting into cycling, this ride killed me!)
52.63 mi.
16.36 avg mi/hr
149 avg Heart Rate

Friday, April 15, 2011

Prima Vera!

Spring is almost fully here, and last weekend it felt like summer. The leg warmers are off and it's time to work on the tan. I also shaved off the last of my winter hibernation fur.

I've had some fun rides with the team this week. Last Sunday was the BioWheels Lobster Bake where the team rode the Sunflower Revolution route and ended up dehydrating and wilting, a melted pile of red flesh on the side of the road. Bjet and I headed out for more miles after the group ride and we did some hills around Downtown.

Tuesday night was the battle of the local blogs. Joe Biker from The Best Bike Blog Ever invited me for a whoopin on the hill up to Devou park in Covington. It's long(ish — by Cincinnati standards) with a gradient that allows you to go pretty fast with a few kick ups at the end to try to make you vomit. It's pretty similar to Kuglar Mill.

Devou Hill Repeat Times (4/12/2011)
6:49 (Penis battle)
6:37 (I was trying to spin up that bastard at 100 rpms)
6:53 (Ugh 1)
6:43 (Joe took over and tried to power hammer up it)
6:47 (Not too shabby, another shared effort on the front)
7:01 (Ugh, I don't care, can we go home now)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Riding like French Kings!

Last year I barely had any mountain biking time in the saddle before Cohutta. This year I've been pretty luck with the snowy TTs, a little bit of time in Austin and our new affinity for some of the Hoosier trails. Especially Versailles, it's just over an hour away! And it's longer and hiller than Cincinnati's East Fork.

It seems like they've been getting less rain, or the trails are hillier therefore they drain better. But Bridget and I have been hitting Versailles in late March and early April. It was so nice to show up and before you knew it a couple of friends were there to join you too!

The first weekend we rode with Chris and Steven, then after a lap or so we found Karwash and his friend Mike. The next weekend we headed out there and the weather was so warm the trails were so crowded! We rode with Jeni, Darrin, super brewer Chris, Stephen, and Bryan. We even saw Matt Fox, and like a sasquatch BioWheels Tony F appeared! Tony put a real whoopin' on me! He so smooth on downhills and technical stuff. I wish I were taking notes!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Patron Giants

I look like such a little guy compared to ole "Mott Sauce" in the Le Mans style start to last year's race. Between him, Karwisch and Gers I always have a few Giants around.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Waffles and Dead People, Cobbles and Krauts

I've been reading "Bicycle Diaries" by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame). The book is comprised of his observations of the world, culture, art, civilization, etc. from the seat of a bicycle. Any cyclist who reads this book will get it in a second, but I guess it is written for his legion of fans, art nerds who are cooped up in their New York studios stroking cats. A cyclist moves fast enough to see a lot yet slow enough to really absorb their surroundings — the legs are working but the mind is free to roam.

I'm a big fan of history, and as a lifelong resident of Cincinnati, I'm into Cincinnati history and my often rides are glimpses into the past of a booming Cincinnati of the late-1800s. And frequently I do rides around the city and allow myself to explore and seek serendipity. I have also always dug riding through cemeteries. Cemeteries are these beautiful, peaceful parks typically with some rolling hills, sometimes with gravel and I love the old ones with stone monoliths sprouting skyward. Something lovely happens when the late afternoon sun hits limestone — it reminds me of Paris perhaps (snob!). And looking at the names of people on the headstones I start to see the people who formed our city — the founding fathers and mothers of neighborhoods, farmers sometimes, or heads of industry. Now the names are applied to streets, to memorialize these great people, and we have no idea to Peebles, Ferris, Pogue, McGregor, Settle or even Ezzard Charles are.

Waffles and Dead People
So the day before the Heart Mini I went out for a long recovery ride. I was about to ride up the Loveland bike path when I realized I have never been to Spring Grove Cemetery. So I rode the scenic way through Cincinnati's lovely Eden Park, down through the city to Findlay Market. Findley is the only old market left downtown, the one on Court Street was dismantled or burned and the one around Fountain Square was destroyed in the night when the bankers and businessmen grew sick of the hems of their trousers being stained with pigs blood from the 5th street market butchers.

Now, like me, there is a bunch of localvore/organic/free-range foodies who flock here for authentic food, some cheap eats and gourmet treats. Taste of Belgium is one of the treats. I hope they return to the 3 day Cincinnati Weekend CX races. They use large granules of sugar in their yeast batter (a recipe inspired from the waffles of Liége) that melt onto the griddle and carmelize the outside of the waffle. (For winter rides I also suggest Dojo Gelato's Cup of Hot Melty Chocolate — it's like a liquid pudding!)

Having fueled myself I set off once again. I ride through West End and the industrial heart of Cincinnati. This is where Proctor and Gamble used pig fat to make soap and candles, using the river to ship their goods. I weave in and out of factory roads impressed by these dinosaurs of the industrial revolution, some still working and others abandoned.

I hit Northside and I am welcomed by a Raymond Thundersky mural on the outside of Visionaries and Voices. Raymond Thundersky was a Native American fellow, I am unsure if he was afflicted by a mild mental disorder — but he dressed as a construction worker/clown hybrid and would watch outside Cincinnati construction sites. On a side note, I spent part of my teen years tailing him around a grocery store where I worked as a stocker. My manager turned me into Mr. Thundersky's stalker, my manger being convinced this odd man was stealing!

After Northside I find the Mill Creek Valley Greenbelt bike path — I was delighted to get a little refuge from the traffic. I plan to speak a little more about the new Cincinnati bike paths in a future post. I finally got to Spring Grove Cemetery! It was very beautiful, this was one of the first warm and sunny days in awhile.

Spring Grove is incredible. There are some small hills, and valley streams and the asphalt is a bit gravely. It would make a killer crit course (no pun intended)! Once again I am impressed with the artistry of these memorials.

After a loop I headed back to Northside for a quick bite at the Sidewinder cafe. Then I headed for home with a route through Clifton, Avondale, Evanston, Norwood, Oakley and Madisonville. Some of these neighborhoods are so incredible. At some point they were extremely prosperous but grew out of fashion, or perhaps white flight turned them into "rough areas." Probably people with lesser income just moved in and couldn't afford the upkeep on these giant houses. At once I admire the architecture but I try not to see this neighborhood through a lens of future gentrification.

Cobbles and Hills
Well I was going to go to a trail day then ride my MTB afterwards. But a huge thunderstorm and inches of rain stopped me! So I pedaled back home in soaked jeans and I thought I would make the best of it. I warmed up climbing the backstreets of Ludlow and Covington, Kentucky. I started exploring and I found the street where a UFO house is located!

I ride over to the Cincinnati riverfront and I am excited about the Banks project. The riverfront was killed by the interstate that divided the city from the water. As train (and eventually trucking) commerce killed the riverboats the once seedy underbelly of Cincinnati withered away and became parking lots. I can't help but wonder if some ghosts of crazy riverboat captains who died (victim of a therapeutic bovine blood cocktail perhaps?) in the opium dens and brothels that once littered the docks are totally pissed that their crazy lifestyle got paved over by a boring parking lot. Here is an interesting article on old black neighborhoods along the riverfront.

Once again I found myself down in Over-the-Rhine, where my great-grandparents dried spaetzle on the radiators, built furniture and barber chairs with skills they learned around Hamburg and would take Summer picnic trips in a rowboat up the canal (or what they jokingly termed "The Rhine"). I love to ride around and try to imagine what it was like. Mainly I just see "Gangs of New York" in my head, except everyone is speaking German.

I love hitting the cobbles in front of Music Hall going 20 mph. I imagine the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix are much more severe, but these in Cincy have my hands stinging after only a block! One of these days I would love to "cobble" together all the old pavé and brick alleys for an Urban Alleycat CX race.

After OTR I climbed up through Liberty Hill, rode along some brick alleys and happened upon a little neighborhood called "Little Bethlehem." I never heard this area called that before, but there are some beautiful Italianate houses lining the hillside. Walker Street is especially quaint.

Every once in a while something completely crazy happens while you are on a bike. You are silent, exposed, yet still moving fast enough that you see a lot of stuff; and if it is weird you're not sitting there like a target. On another ride through the Brewery District a year ago, these EMTs emerged from an apartment building with a corpse on a stretcher while the churches of OTR rang their bells. Creepy. Sometimes you happen upon a drug deal or drug use. Friends of mine have seen people having sex on trails, etc,. Well on this ride I was in Filson park in Mount Auburn, I rode behind a car and noticed the passenger's head bobbing in the driver's lap. The driver nervously glanced over his shoulder, then lowered his seat back!

So I kept riding hills to keep warm in the rain. By now I am thoroughly soaked, but the slow steady efforts keep me warm. I ride through Eden Park and Mount Adams. Riding along Oregon Street you can still see the two rows of supports for the old inclines. Why did we ever get rid of those? And the street cars? I bet they got run down and cost too much to repair; nostalgia always making everything seem cooler. I make my way into Walnut Hills — and especially on Madison Road you can see where at one time the utmost wealthy of the city lived in enormous houses with pasture-like lawns. They could afford to leave the city, where the industrial revolution wreaked havoc upon air quality and the streets were filthy with carriage droppings and the pigs blood flowing from the market places. Anyway, enough pig blood staining my trouser bottoms! So I am climbing this short hill on a side street when I see the absolutely most adorable house in Cincinnati! The facade is so ornate, like it has been transported from the Black Forest, Bavaria or Switzerland!

So I ended my ride going up through Alms and Ault Parks. I love epic public works projects, these parks are real gems. I love attacking the hills and you are rewarded with great views from the top. One street is called Vineyard, and I am reminded of a story that at one time the Ohio River Valley was the center for wine-making in the U.S. I look up at these South facing hills and I can just imagine rows of grapes and I'm reminded of my friend Carolina who took me to the Rhein in Germany, of the Lorelai (this inland "mermaid" who tempted sailors to run aground), of the Reisling I bought for Bridget here:

Geez, my mind really wanders during a ride! Anyway, ride a bike and see the world!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Giants and Nativity Shitters oh my!

I remember watching my first Paris-Roubaix and seeing these enormous figures in the background. I was like, what the hell are these! Well it turns out that many cities in the North of Europe have patron Giants that look over an protect their region!

Some of said Giants. My family line is actually from Nord-pas-de-Calais, thus my affinity towards tall people.

I think I am in love with the Catalonians. They are crazy. Their Nativities feature a guy (El Caganer) taking a dump in the corner! Evidently when crazy holy ordeals are going down, they believe people are still keepin it real doin everyday stuff — like taking a dump.

The Catalonians also have a Christmas log that poops presents!

Germans have a book of fairy tales that scare children into submission! The book is called "Der Struwwelpeter". Don't suck your thumb, play with matches or be slovenly!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Psycho Roadie Manorexia!

Sometimes bicycle racers are worse than supermodels. It makes sense that if I spend a lot on bikes, and going to races, and kill myself training all the time that I might as well watch what I eat and make sure that come race day I am the best I can be. This often equates to a sensible observance of what I consume, making sure that they are quality calories designed to replenish my body and help me recover and perform again.

Bjet bought the book Racing Weight Quick Start Guide. I swear this was written by the devil. It says that I am a fattie and I need to lose 10 lbs. or I will never win the Tour!

This book focuses on getting leaner in the off-season, and it is very unsafe to restrict calories while training, especially for Endurance events like Mohican. This year I am aiming for loftier racing goals which may include getting destroyed in the UCI Elite CX races.

But what I have noticed is that what I have been assuming is okay for me isn't always the best thing to eat. So I am planning to watch what I eat and try to lose any extra weight slowly and naturally. If I don't lose it all I don't care. But if I succeed I could see a near 10% gain in performance. No need to dope!

I have been using to track my calories and I noticed some foods I have been eating have been a little too full of fat and lacking the protein I need to recover. Below are my calorie tables will really help me make sure that I am getting the proper amount of of major calorie resources to keep me lean and help me recover. I'll post some recipes in the future.