Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

The Moseman took its last ride stateside for a few weeks. Next stop: Lecchi in Chianti.


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Following yesterday’s soggy 80K across the east and west hills, I figured that a gentle hosing of the bike would be adequate to clean it before lubricating the chain and riding again. Not so. Unfortunately, my old habits kicked in and it wasn’t long before the drive-side crank arm and chain rings were off and the derailleur pulleys were out.

I removed pounds of built up gunk, which I will soon replace with brand new gunk. I had another small maintenance job, too. I replaced the brake pads with what I hope are the last replacements.

Credit and thanks go to Velomine for having the pads, though, as with all Campy parts, they don’t come cheap.

I shot a few pictures of the components because I know that’s what folks love to see.

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The forecast called for showers, perhaps in the afternoon. The weather was not listening to the weatherman. The showers started early and did not relent, except for the few short kilometers of our opening climbs. Not so in Gaiole in Chianti.

The next few days in Gaiole in Chianti (c)foreca.com

I was joined by son-in-law Phillip, with whom I can easily geek-out on bicycle related topics, work, some sports and the delicious meals we had the night before or the ones we anticipate this evening. Sometimes, those happen together, but usually not. The great thing about riding with Phillip derives from his love of the sport and his attention to the details. It helps that he and I are closely matched, at least this year. He’s usually far faster and can stay in the saddle longer, but I’ve had a good bit of time on the Brooks Pro this year, so were about equal.

This was one of those days that cries out for rolling over and “fluffing the pillow” instead of crawling out, pulling on the kit and hitting the wet roads. My solace was looking at the weather in Gaiole in Chianti where it was expected to be in the mid-80’s and sunny. Can it last until we arrive? Will it last through L’Eroica? No way to know, but it’s fair to say that I have now ridden the gravel and the roads of my familiar training rides in the rain. If I must be covered in moist, limestone paste, I am ready.

The following is a little inspiration, mostly for me, but this is a well-done documentary which I’ve posted previously.

L’EROICA (english version) from Edouard Sepulchre on Vimeo.

L’Eroica is an old-style bike race without any fuss, crossing Chianti’s landscape and its famous white roads. I went there, done some interviews, did the race and there it is.

Photos : http://www.edouardsepulchre.com

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When my friend, Bob Huff, described his experience riding the strade bianchi while we rode a short training ride at the Oregon Coast, his enthusiasm inspired me. Several months later, he called to see if I’d like to model my bike and L’Eroica kit in a photo shoot. That was an easy answer.

The view from the back. (c) Bob Huff Photo

It was a great pleasure pulling on the kit and have Bob shoot scores of images. I’ve done this on a few occasions and one of the enjoyable elements of this shoot was the use of film. Yes, film. Remember that? You know, the stuff you put in those old cameras and send to a chemistry lab where pictures are returned to you a few days or hours later. Of course, there were the digital shots, too, and the sample here is a window to what went on that day. For Bob’s selections of images, visit the L’Eroica Reber Gallery.

Like a good, vintage bike, it’s great to see the solid, still relevant Hasselblads and Leicas come out. In fact, I’ll be taking a good old Leica “shooter” with me to L’Eroica, though I have no intention to drag it along on the ride.

For those who know Bob, you know of his amateur bike racing chops and his estimable photographic skills. After all, he’s shot some of the best in sport and his fine art work is great, too. Take a bit of time to visit his site and don’t miss his blog, either. Bob Huff Photo.

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If you have spent any time reading about L’Eroica, you know that food and wine are a big part of the ride. In fact, the ride traverses scores of vineyards where the strade bianchi are essential to wine commerce. And, olive oil commerce, too.

I had a Twitter follower ask me if I was ready for the ride and by ready, he meant was I prepared for the riding and the eating along the way. I laughed it off, but I think he might be serious. In fact, how will you find enough daylight to ride 205K and consume all of the excellent food that is provided along the way? I will soon find out.

The menu for Sunday lunch

To help me train for that, my sponsor, KitchenCru is hosting a Sunday lunch, or Il Grande Pranzo della Domenica, that reflects the owner’s memories of his youth when the big family meal was served mid-afternoon on Sunday. Having read the menu below, I think this Sunday should be good for training.

The wines that Michael and Dan at CorksCru have selected are equally interesting and another form of training that is far more enjoyable than grinding up 5% grades on gravel.

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It’s hard to know where to begin with this post. I set today aside for a long training ride to include enough climbing that I knew I would feel it when it was complete. Right now, with the late afternoon sun pouring in the window, heating the office area beyond comfort, my legs and knees are reminding me that today’s training ride was long, and hilly, and steep.

The ride I mapped included several climbs, one of which caught me by surprise and another that was the result of road work on the principal north-south route at the crest of the West Hills.

The Strade Bianchi on Saltzman

I mixed in a bit of gravel and also was greeted with gravel I didn’t expect. Speaking of unexpected, how about a dropped chain along with gravel in the new cleats, in so tight that it took a guard rail to exorcize them. More on that later.

Because this sort of thing is self inflicted, I don’t complain. It was a glorious morning. I took care to have a quiet evening on Friday, rising early to get the whole ride in before the 90 degree temperatures came along. Even so, I didn’t wear the new kit knowing that the weight of the wool and the strong sun would have done me in.

The first third of the ride came easily and I felt like the legs belonged to someone else, someone more fit. A cruise down the old friend, Springville Road, made the day seem effortless. I descended that one because of road work. I worked my way north, then east up Germantown Road, another old friend. The legs responded, keeping the pace with effort, but not pain. I reached Skyline Drive again and turned north.

Given the extra distance that the detour required, I considered backing off my original plan, which put the ride at almost 120K. I felt justified. I made a real L’Eroica like stop to pick blackberries, part of my day’s nutrition I figured. Then, I remembered Rule 5 and pressed on toward the end of the pavement on Skyline. But, Skyline wasn’t done with me.

Blackberries along the way.

At Cornelius Pass, I dropped my chain as I shifted for the next climb. I managed to return it safely and make my way across the busy road. I felt a bit smug, figuring it couldn’t be that far to either Logie Trail or Rocky Point Road. As I made my way up what I remembered was a steep pitch, I couldn’t get my cleats to settle into the pedals. A careful look showed gravel embedded in the cleat. If it were metal, it would have seemed like it was welded into place. Tire tools were no use. I had to use the tail end of the guard rail to finally free the stones and get on my way. That interruption killed my tempo. What was relatively straight forward ascending just a few K back was now a stand-on-the-pedals effort in the lowest gear just to get to what I hoped was the top. It wasn’t.

I soon realized that there was a good bit more climbing yet to do and much of it long and unrelenting. Not too far from the exit to Logie Trail, my bail out point, I spoke to a fellow cyclist repairing his tire. He assured me that Rocky Point Drive was just 3 miles away (5K). That buoyed me. Of course, it ended up being more like 8K away with enough climbing to make me wonder just how long that return to Portland might be.

The turnoff for Rocky Point came into view, as did the sign saying “Fresh Gravel.” That’s not to uncommon since Skyline and Dixie Mountain continue on as unpaved roads. Looking forward to a zippy descent to Route 30, I quickly learned what the sign was all about. The road was fresh with tar-and-chip repaving. Now, it was my arms and hands that felt the day’s effort because I was braking, madly, on steep terrain, some of which must have just been treated last week. I figured this was good training for L’Eroica because it became apparent that descending on the strade bianchi will be far more difficult than the climbing.

A Natian Session ale to toast a good day in the saddle

Fortunately for me and my hourly average, the road turned to asphalt about half way to the bottom and I cruised along, enjoying the breeze. It wasn’t long before Route 30 came into view, a vision of wide lanes, big shoulders and miserable traffic. There was no other alternative that made sense and a northerly wind provided the mo

tivation as I put the hammer down, averaging 30+K/hour on the return.

It was poetic that the bike meter tripped the 100K mark as I crossed over the middle of the St. John’s Bridge. I headed back on the old route by the Columbia Slough, finally getting to the Fifteenth Avenue Hophouse

in time for a couple of tasty beers.

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I’m not sure what the forces are that make certain things, like blog posts, appear when you are thinking about them, but this just popped up in the Twitter feed. The Adventure Journal article has a great shot to lead it off, but make sure you read the SI story and view the photos on Velonews. Makes my little West Hills workouts look like a walk in the park. Time for more Rule 5.

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A L’Eroica Training Log

Training and preparing for L’Eroica is not provided in some sort of online program or printed guide book. Perhaps the best advice I’ve read so far is not specific to L’Eroica, but to any demanding bike ride or race or physical activity. It is summed up handily in Rule 5 from the Velominati site.

Taking that as my guide, I am making a point now, just five weeks and a few days from the opening bell, to always go an extra few K on every ride. If I have a known route that connects to another, I combine them. If I have an existing route that can be extended, I do that. When the alarm goes off at 5:45 and I know I could use some more sleep, I get up and put the kit on.

This has been working well, but I wonder if it’s enough? I have yet to ride anything approaching a 205K distance. I know that I may not actually do so because training doesn’t necessarily require it. One significant element that I have yet to do much of is riding on the pebbles. The following link will show a route that I put together from a couple of others. It does include a 5K climb on gravel, though the surface is pretty forgiving.

A Portland Training Route

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The roads and scenery around Trout Lake, Washington bring you within a few kilometers of  two significant Cascade volcanoes, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. Adams by the USGS

With my son-in-law as ride-mate, we took on a loop ride from the Lower Falls Campground in Gifford Pinchot National Forest through Trout Lake and over the western flank of Mt. Adams. The ride includes some very quiet roads, breath taking scenery, steep ascents and equally enjoyable descents. For a map of the ride, go here: Lewis River-Trout Lake Loop.

On family camping trips, the Moseman tandem is usually the machine of choice. This time, my wife decided she didn’t want the punishment. I don’t blame her. She and I have ridden this loop before, albeit without the extra 33K of road between the loop and the camping. My original mapping of the ride had the distance pegged incorrectly and my son-in-law pointed this out before we set off. I wish he hadn’t said anything.

The weather on Saturday, August 6 was beautiful: sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70’s with a light breeze at our back when we started. We thought about that as we knew that the return would be into that same wind.

The first significant climbing occurs after you make the turn toward Trout Lake. The road is perfect, though, with just a few patches of gravel. The gradient is easily managed, even with the relatively high gearing that I cannot escape. We took just about two hours to get to the Trout Lake Ranger Station where we refueled with water and sandwiches and some excellent homemade cookies. Prior to that stop, though, I choked down my first experience with “Gu.” All I can say is that I hoped it helped me in some small way because the experience otherwise is not pleasant.

It’s not long after Trout Lake that you begin the climb of Mt. Adams. Here, the angle is more significant, with steep pitches that are followed by milder climbs and even some descents. The sun was on us, too, so we doffed the helmets and rode like hard men. Phillip was kind to me, letting me catch him as we made our way up the 20K or more of climbing.

Views to Mt. Adams are wonderful here and we had been teased with peeks at the western slopes as we made our way down to Trout Lake. After finally topping out, we rode the relatively flat, then steeply descending road to its junction with our return.

On average, the return is downhill, though there are some rollers that remind you that what looks easy on paper rarely is. Add to this the wind dimension, which at times was blowing quite hard in our faces. That meant crouching over the handlebars and creating the sore necks that we nursed with beers late in the day.

By the end, we had logged 116K of fantastic riding, averaging 23K/hour. As I made my final turn into the campground, I felt proud. Proud, that is, until I realized that to approximate L’Eroica’s long ride, I’d have to make the circuit all over again.

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A waning skill among cyclists is the engaging and disengaging of a traditional cleat in a traditional pedal. With the wonders of the clipless pedal, we just snap our plastic molded, velcro strapped, ratcheting buckled shoes into place. Come to a stop sign or a place to dismount, twist and lift and we’re ready.

Enter the traditional pedal and the slotted cleat. You have to think about it and you have to be prepared to extricate yourself unless you want to be the laughing stock in front of the cafe or pub. It’s really quite simple, though. Just:


At least for the removal. It’s good to have this muscle memory, especially when you’re riding along, enjoying the road and hoping that the rest of the route is downhill. Then, along comes a stop sign or a needed resting point and you’ve “forgotten” that your pedals are as pictured. You cannot use your foot alone to make the move. You have to free your foot from the rigors of the clip and strap. Or, fall down. It’s your choice.

This became clear in the month since I made the transition. It is reinforced every time I get on the bike. If you want to stay upright when stopped, memorize the action above.

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