Thursday, February 28, 2008


Far more exciting lately than my own griping about the weather has been following the success of friends: Katheryn Curi Mattis, who came up with me through New England racing (and evidently kept going) and who was my teammate in 2004, won the Geelong World Cup! Berkshire champion and accomplice on many snow hikes (not to mention mechanical savior) Dave Drumm made the bikes tip-top for the race, Velo Bella teammate Amy Dombrowski continues her lightning rise through international racing, and former teammate Erinne Willock looks poised for a great season. Wow. And while I pine a bit for such racing adventures, I also have an acute awareness of how extremely difficult it is to do what they have done – physically but especially the extreme level of sacrifice and the opportunity costs in other areas of life. Here in Connecticut, I need to hold out one more week before I head to Asheville for our Advil team camp and my spring break training block. I am still thinking hard about how to give a freshness to the season, how to step it up. Men’s racing would be really good for me, since I am quite good in terms of 1-4hr fitness, far less good in terms of 1-10minute fitness. I need to not feel I am failing to support the women’s sport and the promoters who make it happen, or imply that the quality of the regional women’s fields is not high. Other tidbits: I neglected to realize that my bottom bracket had gone to hell so now that it’s been replaced I feel I am riding a lightning bolt. Looking forward to Bethel this weekend, and I have plenty else to keep me busy, such as memorizing the meanings of acronyms such as BACT, BDAT, and BAT (anyone know these?) and nailing down some thesis stuff. Too many interests (better than too few). The Yale team has its first collegiate race weekend this weekend – hurray! Our email list contained this great bit of advice from one German graduate student: Think of this: Ein gutes Pferd springt so hoch wie es muss, nicht höher. (A good horse jumps as high as it has to, not higher)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Subconscious Skips Sleeping Giant

I was finally going to brave the Sleeping Giant ride yesterday, to break out of my recent pattern of riding within a 100 watt range within a 10rpm zone on flat terrain or trainer. This is the ride I swore off three years ago, after I got hit from behind, the guy flipping up over a guardrail, because I decided to stop at a red light and not follow the riders ahead of me. It was a scary example of group-think and I lost my own better judgment. I am kind of renowned for my disdain for the ride. But yesterday I even went so far as showing up, but then I rode ahead to avoid waiting for the ride start, and overshot the turn (which I clearly know) and missed the ride! I realized at that point I was dreading the ride, went and did a nice hilly loop on the rural roads west of New Haven (as cities go this place is pretty nice for pedaling). Trying to figure out the best approach to this spring season: Redlands but then a big gap in my NRC schedule and there's a question in my mind about how to make things new and stimulating, given the familiarity of so many of these races. That said I am strangely excited for Bethel next Sunday. These photos are from time spent training in La Canada (home of the Rose Bowl) near Pasedena back in 2004.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Battling the Elements...In My Apartment

Snow, ice, rain, and now the seemingly innocuous environment of my apartment... Given this impressive outdoor weather - don't get me wrong I don't hate winter, I just lack enthusiasm for New Haven's pseudo-winter - I was on the trainer again. All good to start and then I just overheated, smoke coming out the ears sort of thing, hr 20-30 beats higher than it should be. Drank 6 bottles and still lost weight in water. Not supposed to feel ill after training... Checked out these power files of Judith Arndt cruising easily around Mallorca for 200k. Such a contrast to my riding right now, which is this "go go go" while I can stay warm or stay on the trainer mentality - oh to just cruise around in warmth and sun. Supposedly German cyclists, if the weather looks bad for the weekend, will hop on a plane to Mallorca, so some friends of mine and I have taken to asking "Mallorca this weekend?" Finally, write this great news into your September calendar: The Portsmouth Crit promoter has moved the start time of the women's race so that it no longer conflicts with the Suckerbrook Cyclocross. Let's all go out and race this great double day! Photos to indicate my point about New Haven winter: yesterday brought pouring rain on top of snow, necessitating cyclocross pit boots just to leave the house, then today gorgeous, a brilliant winter day, almost Mallorca!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Recovery Day, Food for Thought, and Technical Tip with Disclaimer

“Day off” for a cyclist, even one with an uber-flexible student life, is pretty much a misnomer. We all know it is code for: blitz on work, run errands, clean the house, do laundry, make phone calls during daylight hours, pay bills, etc. Yesterday I did schoolwork non-stop from 6:30 to 4:00, to the point of absolute exhaustion. But I was again amazed at how much I can get done when not exhausted from pedaling. Recovery scores again though, since I got off the trainer just now to news that one of today’s classes got cancelled, making my epic Tuesday much less epic. So now I am listening to On Point’s “The Soaring Price of Food,” having read this interesting story on the origin of muscle fatigue and done some quality stretching. I haven’t read it all yet but came across this great essay title, “My Other Car is a Bright Green City.” (And not trying to be high and mighty here - I ridiculously drive around in a 4wd station wagon, drive a lot every year.) Yesterday there was no way I was riding outside, with temperatures in the low ‘20s and tons of wind. This morning I found out a friend rode 5hrs; today he is doing 6hrs, again with temps in the low 20s! Power to him. Maybe I need to be tougher. Now for the technical tip: I have now sheered off the rear derailleur shift cable of my DuraAce 10-speed shifter at the point of its entry into the hood/shifter four times. (It's the center of the photo.) The shifting starts to go bad, then all of a sudden you are stuck in the 12. It’s a weird problem, and the cable head then can get stuck in the shifter. The best explanation I can find is this: that it’s a consequence of leaving your bike in an easy cog when not riding, since this stresses the cable and leaves it in a highly bent position. I am trying to remember to shift into the smallest cog after riding, just in case this helps.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weather Triumphs, Sparking a New Approach

Smarty-pants me thought I would outfox the weather today, so went out early to beat the snow and promptly crashed on a patch of black ice. Then I noticed the ice was all over, rear wheel even spinning out at times, and I tip-toed my way back home, riding as much as possible cross-style on the frosted grass so I wouldn’t eat it and get run over. Then I jumped on the trainer, buoyed first by an hour of silence, then by this new trash radio favorite, 104.1, (being the last person on the planet without an ipod) and proceeded to make my shoes just as soaking wet as they were yesterday. To add insult to injury, it’s now sunny and 42 (though rain and snow still forecast). I am adopting a strategy of interest-based not positional bargaining with the weather and will keep you posted. Dinner plans for tonight involve bringing a salad, so eat local is going to have to include walking to Romeo and Caesar’s Market today to buy a California lettuce. Otherwise, I’m charging on with the project, reminded of one time canoe camping with my brother and friends on an island in Lake Millinocket in Maine, where we had an excess of onions and roasted them over a fire, on whittled sticks and wrapped in tinfoil, each layer seasoned with a different spice – cumin, cinnamon, pepper, oregano. Going to stop before I adopt the complete diabetes-inducing diet, but for now I still have an orange, carrots, red cabbage, frozen peas, onions, and garlic in the produce department and the project has inspired some creativity. Check this out in the unintended consequences department: evidently two studies are saying biofuels are going to have a bigger carbon footprint than conventional fuels, due to forest clearing. Haven't really thought it through but one thing's certain: good intentions alone don't guarantee a positive outcome. Here's to finding the low-hanging fruit.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Yale Ride Rallies w/o Commander in Chief

Yesterday I ended up gambling on good weekend weather, taking it easy and sticking to the original plan of big weekend rides, and it seems to have paid off because today’s ride ROCKED. I went out early to beat the rain, rode a steady 1.5hrs, and met the Yale ride after the impatience-producing part. I spun around and promptly got dropped! I seem to be lacking some top end… The ride was without a leader today: no Greek warfare specialist keeping us in rank, no leading health care economist breaking my legs smoothly, no ex-pro now solving mysteries of paleontology, no current pro in purple making it look easy, no smiling Japanese-American-German chemist ensuring the pace never dips below x, what were we to do? After that first surge, we went suspiciously steady, but it was quality. When the rain started that solidified the mission even more: get home! One rider met with doom on the diagonal train tracks in the rain-turing-to-sloppy snow, but he was ok. Such intrepid students – watch out Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference! Even post-thaw, post-liquid, post-food, post-nap, post-stretching, I am sitting lifeless on the floor watching Barak Obama and Kansas victor Mike Huckabee, skeptical of my ability to accomplish much on the schoolwork front. Tomorrow I am venturing out on New Haven’s notorious Sleeping Giant ride, one I swore off as the most dangerous ride ever encountered, but after a year or so I am giving it another shot.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Which Candidate would be most interesting to bring on today's ride?

Times like these I feel like a weather prognosticator. Today is supposed to be a balmy and clear 41, the best day of the next three, so I might do some workout swapping. Now that I think of it, I might look into recruiting the Chinese government to bring me good weather, just as it intends to seed clouds to reduce air pollution during the Olympics... Not much riveting about the training, the focus right now is threshold. After a terrible early morning attempt on Friday (go from the gun mentality should not be applied to these intervals, though I am pretty sure I set a new pr for a 15-minute interval (clearly not the point!)), then weakness on Monday, yesterday, riding outside for what seems like the first time in a long time, I seemed to have the legs back. There is a certain joy in riding a bike that just is not captured on the trainer. I have also been doing some high cadence spin-ups, which don't come easily for me, but are an essential piece of the sprinter-climber quest. In other news: I am an election junkie; I am trying to get rid of some of the bad bike-commuting habits I’ve acquired since moving to New Haven (and practicing track standing at lights); having finally replaced the missing Powertap heart rate strap, I am trying to get the head unit to pick up the signal; Mozilla Thunderbird is cool; and I’ve made it five days on my eat local campaign, coffee black and staples quickly disappearing… Think I will be riding in this town, Madison, today. West coast might be enjoying some weather but we have cool history and tons of awesome mini-roads out here - take that.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Eat Local Campaign

I added some local food links. And you might read: Make Lunch Not War, Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemna, or In Defense of Food, or Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle. I'm starting my own local food campaign: eating from my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. I just inherited the food supply of a friend moving abroad and am feeling rather overwhelmed (note packets of sports drinks, box of brown sugar that threatens to last the year, towers of tuna and tomato products, excess of spices). Might run low on fresh produce, but the freezer is full of frozen raspberries and miscellaneous vegetables, plus in the age of vitamins the importance of fresh food is vastly overrated, no? I've got four cans of whey protein powder, should be fine! Maybe I will even discover some new delights that wouldn't otherwise come to mind, such as quinoa with sundried tomatoes, frozen peppers and spinach, capers and some neglected canollini beans. This will be fun, and I will cut it short before I get scurvy. At least I don't really buy the idea that bisphenyl A is going to kill me - that is a lot of cans. Probably want to ration that tower of tuna, even though some would argue the methyl mercury health impact data, largely derived from a single Faroe Island study of whale meat, is bunk. In other news, I am impatiently resting this weekend on the bike; my field trip Friday included a 1hr hike in a driving wind and rain storm at 35 degrees - top notch recovery; and it was warm enough yesterday to actually give my bike the bath it deserves. Ok, I'm going pedaling.