Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Training with power, care and feeding of your Powertap

Congratulations on the purchase of your new Powertap. If you've purchased the Elite+ base model it will only have set you back $999.99. If you splurged for the Zipp Disc with PowerTap 2.4, your wallet is a paltry $3,599.99 lighter. While this may seem rather high to the uninformed, the benefits will far outweigh the costs as you train with power and end those meaningless days of going out on your bike for fun.

When beginning to train with power, it's good to have goals. A possible goal might be to dominate your local charity ride, complete a century, finish mid-pack in a cat 5 crit, or even crawl across the line barely under the 17 hour time limit in an age grouper Ironman triathlon. However lofty your goal may be, your new Powertap will get you there.

When deciding if you should go with the base model or leverage your failing 401k for the Zipp, consider this, the extra $2600 for the Zipp wheel is well worth the price. Why? Two words, dimples! The dimples slice through the air infinitely better than a disc without the dimples. To see just how much better we'll use this formula, (coefficient of drag - rotating mass * pi divided by the square root of infinity). Clearly now you see how we all win with technology...

For those not mathematically inclined, look to modern day life where we have the examples of jets with dimples, race cars with dimples, and super fast track stars with dimples. Coincidence? I think not!

But back to training with power, the true beauty of training with power is that it supplies quantifiable evidence of how much you are hating your ride. That dude that the marathon was named after, he didn't have a power meter, and he died. While that may not happen to you, the sobering consequence of training without power could be many enjoyable rides on your bike, something that Bicycling and RoadBikeRider may call "junk miles".

But Lemming you ask, I know heart rate can vary dramatically, but what about speed, do I really need a Powertap when I could just keep a log of speeds on a given course referenced against perceived exertion? On the contrary dear reader, what if you ride a course trying for a personal best on your Spinergy wheels and Trek Y-Foil one day, then the next day hop on your Cervelo P4 with a Zipp disc? You will have no idea how hard you are working or how you little you are enjoying the ride. To make the answer even more enlightening, what if you put your PowerCranks on to your Trek Madone and ride around the same course in your skinsuit after freshly shaving your legs? Now you're beginning to see what I'm talking about. We're going to have 3 different outcomes with possibly the same fitness, but how would you know without the knowledge provided by a Powertap?

Lastly, to protect your investment in the Powertap, RoadBikeRider might suggest to clean your wheel after every ride with generous amounts of Simple Green and a Scotch-Brite sponge. The Lemming recommends and prefers you clean your wheel with lingerie and a bottle of white zinfandel.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Top ten reasons you should do an organized century

10) You've read that article in Bicycling about doing your first century and figure it's the first step in your lucrative age grouper career. Possibly after completing a century you can start training for your first Ironman triathlon.

9) You like spending money and think it's fun to pay upwards of $50 for what a lot of cyclists just call a long ride. Unless you are lucky enough to find a ride that includes a jersey in the cost, then you'll only have to pay in excess of $100 to go on a long ride.

8) Lots of watered down, crappy donated Accelerade and tons of stale bagels, energy bar halves, and bananas, need I say more?

7) High potential to use your first aid training after a squirrelly rider crash, or have someone use it on you after they take you out.

6) An oppprtunity to feel like Lance as you pass the soccer mom on her vintage Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike with slicks (and aero bars). Give her a look back and hammer up that hill, leaving her in the dust like Ulrich eating pastries.

5) You enjoy getting yelled at by pissed off drivers who are now backed up by miles and miles of cyclists. Bonus points if you flat because of tacks that they threw on the road.

4) You love cold chicken breasts, pasta salad, and more crappy Accelerade at the "finish line". Nothing says thank you for the $50+ you spent on your entry fee like crappy finish line food.

3) You need another crappy event t-shirt. Oops, I guess I said there was nothing better than the crappy finish line food, I was wrong.

2) You've tried your hand at races and just haven't been successful. Charity rides are the perfect place to showcase your unappreciated power and dominate the unwitting!

1) You have a recumbent!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Best of Coach Fred: Issue No. 369 - 11/13/08

Best of Coach Fred: Issue No. 369 - 11/13/08

I feel the need to help coach Fred out this morning. The subject of why do male cyclist shave their legs comes up yet again. Coach Fred gives it the old college try, but falls short of the goal line, so the Lemming is here to help out. On to the questions:

Q: My road riding buddies shave their legs all winter even though they're covered with leg warmers. In fact, I heard one guy say that leg warmers are the reason he continues shaving. Huh? -- Bud P.

Coach Lemming:
Dude! I want to dispel some myths for you, no matter what anyone tells you, cyclists shaving their legs isn't about better cleaning up after a crash. If it was we should really be worried about how much people are crashing. It's also not about how terrible massages feel on hairy legs, although I'd agree with that. How often are we getting massages as recreational riders, unless you are someone with way too much money in this economy, with a prescribed coach, trying to finish mid-pack in a local crit.

Just to set the record straight it's also not about riding in the rain and how water sticks to the hair and makes you cold, although that is a good reason too, most cyclists shy away from the rain... It's not about all those pesky little gnats that get caught in your arm and leg hair and make you look like a freak, you might already look like a freak in the spandex. Lastly, it's not about helping leg warmers stay up better...

Pure and simple, shaving your legs is about showing off your leg muscles. Unfortunately just because a person can flex their calves and see little lines in the mirror, doesn't mean their legs look muscular, and a huge head on tiny shoulders has the potential to offset any muscular looks the legs have anyway.

In conclusion, don't question someone about shaving their legs, let them have their fun. And if you are going to shave yours, by all means, NEVER stop at your shorts line, your wife should never have to see you wearing a pair of wookie shorts!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My First Spin class

My First Spin class, a story by a fictitious poster named Larry...

I had heard that spinning was "a great way to stay in shape over the winter". Up to this point I had avoided a class, opting to ride outside even in the cold vs sit inside like some gym rat. But since everyone raves about it, I thought why not give it a try. To be honest, my thoughts have always been that spinning probably isn't that fun, rather cyclists latch on to it because it's the only "class" offered with any direct relevance to biking, sort of like how cyclists latch on to any cycling on TV just because it's on there.

Anyway, being a "Cat Reaffirming my Sense of Self-Importance" I knew that the only way to get out there and prove my self-worth was that I needed to hit that gym and get strong for next year. So without adieu I donned my full Discovery kit, grabbed my bike shoes and gloves, and headed off to the gym.

When I got there I was amazed with what I saw. There were only two others in full bike gear, one really skinny 50-something in a Hawaiian print jersey and non-matching black shorts, and another rather hefty 30-40-something in a TwinSix Category 6 jersey. All of the rest were in workout shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. I was going to look like a superstar compared to these clowns.

Our instructor Lisa came in, a bubbly 20-something with more energy than I'll ever have. The class got started and I admit, riding the fixed gear bike with the heavy flywheel was a little interesting. I had fears of stopping pedalling only to have my femur smashed through my pelvis, but I got the hang of it pretty quick. We started out with a nice easy spin and light resistance to get warmed up, this was a walk in the park. The music resembled a more upbeat mix of the 2Unlmited stuff we heard drill teams playing at sporting events, with a beat that made me want to offer to buy the soccer mom next to me a drink.

Next, our beauty queen told us to crank up the resistance as if we were climbing a hill. I like climbing so I was all over this one. As we went on we kept adding resistance until we were grinding along at about 20rpm. Holy crap, this was kicking my ass! Next time I head to the local killer hill though, I'll be ready to pop it in to my 53x11 and just grind up that hill! The pinnacle of the class was her screaming at us in her "drink, drink, drink" voice, telling us to think of all of our troubles and to defeat them on this hill. Damn! What a great idea! Next time I go out riding I'm going to think about all of my troubles rather than how beautiful it is outside and how great it is to be alive!

Anyway, I decided I was getting cynical because this was kicking my ass so bad and I was looking like a fool when the soccer mom next to me was jovially riding along, so I lightened up and got back to enjoying class.

Next came the sprints! I consider myself a pretty good sprinter. On my training rides for the MS150 I often come up on other riders and sprint past them just to assert my utter dominance, so I was primed and ready for this! Lisa told us to take all resistance off of the bike and spin as fast as we can. At first it felt good, but then I got scared, I was flailing around like a freshmen at his first high school dance, this was not good. But again, I thought about how much this was helping me. If I ever get on one of those group rides that Bicycling magazine and RoadBikeRider talks about and we get in a city limit sprint, I'll drop down in to my lowest 39x25, err 39x19, and blow the doors off everyone.

By this time the sweat was pouring off of me. This class that I thought was going to be easy was becoming a death march. I began to despise Lisa, I could only imagine the torture she must impose on her boyfriend as he just wants to sleep and she lies awake with a plethora of energy. I prayed for the end of class or my life, whatever could get me out of here, but then came the popcorn sprints...

The popcorn sprints were brutal, if I ever get on one of those group rides Bicycling magazine and RoadBikeRider talk about, I'm going to try them out and see if I can do some major damage to the group sprint. Lisa had us wind up to about 140rpm and once we got there we stood up and sat down over and over again while trying to maintain 140rpm. It was excruciating and I could only imagine how this was making my sprint power even better. Not only that, but if I had to transition from standing to sitting real fast I would be able to do it better after this.

After the popcorn sprints, we got to cool down... This is something I always look forward to on the road. Going back home, sipping my Endurox while watching an old Tour day France video to relax. It was a little different at the gym, after stretching I headed back to the locker room to shower. Admittedly, I was worried about not having my 4:1 to recovery drink and what that might do to my performance, but those worries quickly turned to horror as I noticed old guys walking around the locker room naked. WTF, do these guys not know what a towel is? Opting to skip the shower and just get the hell out of there, I headed home, reflecting on the ass-kicking I had just received. As inferior as I felt, I think I'll be going to more classes as it will give me a huge advantage over other cyclists who don't spin.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A military workout won't make you stronger?

Weekly Dispatch - Issue No. 368 - 11/06/08

"Research in resistance training has shown this for some years:

1-6 repetitions create strength

8-12 reps foster muscular growth

15+ reps build muscular endurance

In other words, if you want to get stronger, add weight. And as a result, reduce repetitions. (A repetition is one full movement of the exercise.) If you train with high repetitions, guess what: You really won't get stronger at all."

Yikes! Someone better tell that to the military, apparently all those pushups and pullups aren't making soldiers stronger at all.