Battery!

Yes, it was just the battery. I mentioned in my last post that the heart monitor was reading erratically, mostly low, mostly zero! After fretting a bit over it, I just went ahead and replaced the battery ($4.95) and went out for a 25 mile ride. That was it. It works like new now. Apparently it had been low for a long time cause I first noticed it on a long hill out of the city (albany) where I should have been doing in the 150 bpms it was reading either zero or very low (30s or 40s) and it was several months ago that I last rode that hill. Apparently, when the battery starts to get even slightly low you have to replace it. I hadn't had it that long (6 mos) but I suppose it depends on how much you use it.
Have only ridden on Sunday and Tuesday so far this week. Since Wed. it has been pouring down rain almost continually. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will get out as Saturday doesn't look too good. I have church men's group at 7am then I am working all day.
I did an old favorite ride on Tuesday; up past Albany Country club to the old army depot and back along Hennesey Road, through Voorheesville, over Swift Rd. past the New Scotland town park, then over Bullock road and home (I realize this means nothing except to locals). It was a great ride. I'm enjoying my progress as well as my HRM working properly. The only thing to note is that my brakes were howling on the steep stops. There is still plenty of "tread" on them but they were kind of glassy and the pads are slightly wider than the rims so they are worn in kind of a U. I started to file one of them down but it was too much work so I put it back on. They're stopping alright, just noisy.
For what it's worth, here's the route for the Tuesday ride:

Cass Hill Road

For our Sunday 6AM ride, Charles took me up Cass Hill Road. I knew this road from driving it as there is a nature preserve there that I have visited in years past. Even in the car it was impressive!
It is a fairly long climb with several steep sections. I still don't know how to guestimate grade but it was muy steep, hombre!
I meandered over to the shoulder early on and spun out but I got right back on the bike. Charles slipped at some point later and walked a short section. I went past him but at the next steep hill I stopped and walked it. Just quit-itis, I guess. There was only one more steep hill after that so I suppose I could have made it.
Then payback time, the ride down the other side!
The last 10 miles or so we hammered it. I always enjoy doing that. Push it as hard as I can cause the end is in sight and know we don't have any more big hills.
Twas a good workout.
My HRM is on the fritz though. Sometimes it read 0 bpm when I know I was in the 150s. I may enjoy biking but when I'm wearing the yellow jersey and riding in the Tour de France and my HRM reads zero, then I'll know I've died and gone to heaven. Not till then. I'll just try replacing the battery.
Here's the route for those who care, if you load it full screen you can check the elevation and tell me what a weenie I am:


a nice way to spend a hot day

Some people say "isn't it too hot to be out riding a bike?"
But you know, it's a pleasant way to be out on a hot day 'cause you bring your own breeze with you. Especially if you have got to a level where you can maintain some speed.
I got frustrated with work so I just shut the computer down and went out for a ride "so I would feel like I accomplished something today."
I told my wife I was just going to do a short ride, under an hour, but it wound up being an hour and a half. I did twenty miles instead of ten plus I got stuck at a train crossing, waited awhile and then backtracked and did a detour on a stretch of road that I really don't like but you can go under the train (a trestle). The road has a lot of fast traffic, it's narrow and doesn't have any shoulder in some places. Next time I'll wait for the train. By the time I got to the trestle it had gone by anyway.
Some farmer tooted behind me cause he was towing a wide piece of equipment. I had to get off the pavement to let him go by without danger. This is how people get killed around here. Last year a local cyclist got killed because some meathead with a Winnebago tried to squeeze by him on a narrow road. What is the matter with people? At least this guy was good enough to warn me. Maybe he would have stopped until it was safe.
I'm glad I went out for the ride. My average speed was over 14 mph. Good for me considering a slow slog up Orchard Hill Road. And I love rollers!
Here's the route including the double-back detour.

25 mile afternoon ride

Today's ride went out 10 miles to where riding buddy Charles lives (but he's probably working today). He doesn't have to ride to the glorious country, he lives there.
The ride out is Snyder's Bridge Road (Rte 102). It's all rollers and winding road but not much if any shoulder and some fast traffic until you get out aways. The trend is uphill.
The ride back is on Bushendorf Road and Jarvis, a favorite route. Even more winding rollers but the trend is downhill. Very quiet road with almost no traffic and pretty scenery. It's an AHHHHHHHHH ride! Almost lost it one time on Jarvis. You can get going pretty fast and there's no shoulder just a drop-off into the woods. I got a little too close to the edge at 30+mph. It wouldn't have been pretty!
I intended this to be an easy recovery ride 'cause my right knee has been a little "tweaky". Nothing serious but I want to keep it that way. I was mostly good. ;-)
Here's today's route:



Off topic, but here are some pics of me from the tour de cure that I got the other day:

This is before the start of the 100K.
That's me on the right in the retro blue helmet and orange shirt. It turned out to be a hot day. Low 90s.


Start of the 100K

Merciful!

Went for a Sunday 6AM ride before church with Charles. He usually takes me up some challenging climb but he had mercy on me today. Maybe it's just cause we only had 2 hours.
We did a couple of pretty good hills but definitely not "killers".
In fact, I had a treat. We went down the down side of Blodgett Hill. That would have been a killer going up it. But I broke my bike speed record going down, 45.0 mph. I feathered the brakes too. A little too thrilling. I have these thoughts "I hope I tightened that quick release on the front wheel right" or "I really should have replaced that other tire too." :-)
But everything worked fine.
It was a good workout. We pushed it. Beat the rain too!

Pitcher takin' ride!

Today's ride was 35 miles. One of my regulars. I decided to take some pictures this time. I like to have the pictures but I don't like stopping for them.
Here's my physical report for the ride:
back: excellent (i have occasional lower back problems)
shoulder: good except when I went to open the restroom door (i have a problem with my right shoulder, mostly on my mountain bike)
Knees: good (have a history of "tweaky knees")
hand: good (my left hand is still recovering from my accident in the spring. I am going to see an orthopedic surgeon on monday)

Here's the narrative in pics:


Starting out in the "neighborhood"


The bypass. Getting warmed up now. You can see a bit of the Helderbergs peeking through in the distance


You can see more of the Helderbergs here


My first hill, Van Dyke Road, the approach


The hill


Meads Lane, a nice 2 mile, mostly flat, mostly straight, no stop signs or cross streets, low traffic. Good for interval workouts and sprints.


More Meads. Farm country.


Farmhouse on Meads. There's a family cemetery over on the left below the tree


Meads Lane. Hilly meadows.


Cow pasture


I always just miss getting through the train crossing. I heard this one coming but couldn't beat it. I was there with three other cyclists.


You can just see the beginning of the "formerly dread" Orchard Hill Road


Other cyclists out on this beautiful day


From the top of Orchard Hill Road. I'm NOT going to stop in the middle of the hill to take a picture! At least, not yet.


The Helderberg Escarpment from Bullock Road. We're not going up there today.


Koonz Road in Voorheesville (lots of Dutch names around here). A nice respite on a hot day!


Koonz Road


View from Hennesey Road. The cell and radio towers on the Helderbergs


The Escarpment


The halfway point. 17.5 miles. Corner of Hennesey and Rte. 201. The glorious Raleigh.


The country club. Mostly downhill from here. Hammer time.


Albany in the hazy distance! Then home!





Tomorrow: 6AM ride with Charles before church. I wonder what hellish climb he has planned?

Speed Work

Today, I didn't have much time to ride so I did my shortest ride, 10.3 miles and tried to keep my speed at or over 15mph. My usual average speed on rides of any length is just under 13.
This was a moderate workout, not all-out. There are a few rollers on this route, no serious hills, and a mostly flat and straight 2 mile stretch with no intersections or stop signs and little traffic. Good workout on the rollers, powering over them out of the saddle in a high gear, usually the big ring and one of the middle cogs except for the first hill cause it has a 20% or so grade right at the end, just for a few spins of the crank though. Fun!
I was just at 15mph for average speed for the ride and that includes my warm up and cool down so I'm OK with that.
Tomorrow, no commitments; so I'd like to get 30-35 miles in before it gets too hot.

Emphasize the FUN

Back to the "FUN" of Fun and Fitness Over 50. It's the most important part. That's why I put it first in the title. Can't let myself get too torqued over the numbers which I have a tendency to do 'cause I am a go-by-the-book-go-by-the-numbers kind of guy.
Today was a beautiful, dry and breezy day in the middle of a run of hot, humid, rainy ones. I slept too late. I would have liked to do 30 miles but wound up having time to do only 18.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to get back into "training", whatever that is, but today it seemed too much like "work". I just wanted to enjoy the day. What I wound up doing is a series of sprints between signs. I would just pick a couple of signs or other landmarks up ahead and say, OK, when I get to the first sign I will sprint until the second sign. The idea was to go all out for about 10 seconds and then recover into zone2. Edwards and Reed say bottom of zone2 but that took to long going too slow at too low a cadence for my taste. So as long as I was below, say, 120bpm, I would consider that recovered. That's about 68%MHR for me. That made it more fun rather than counting off 10 seconds. Also my route went up a pretty good hill, not a killer for me, but a decent climb.
What I also found encouraging was that I can now go up some of those small hills in a higher gear rather than my largest cog. I'm going up on the 3rd cog and on some of the rollers even on the big chainring. Sometimes it actually seems easier than grinding my way up in the lowest gear. My heart monitor seems to confirm that. I try to remember to stand on the pedals from time to time too. It helps me to go over the hills without downshifting and it gives a little relief from the saddle.
I'm starting to feel like a cyclist! :-)

The Heat is ON!

In more ways than one! Yes, we are experiencing some hot and humid weather here in the northeast but "The Heat Is On" is also the name of one of the training rides in Edwards' and Reeds' The Heart Rate Monitor Book for Indoor and Outdoor Cyclists.
I'm trying to get back in a training mode although I'm not sure what I'm training for. I don't really have a goal for the rest of the year after completing the 100k and 75 mile charity rides.
I originally set a goal for completing a century by fall but I'm hesitant to commit to one as my job situation is still not settled.
Also I feel I need to make some adjustments for comfort before doing a century and that will cost me money that I don't have right now; namely a better pair of shorts or tights with a better chamois and a better seat. A bike fit would be nice too.
In addition, I had a back spasm just before the 75 miler and am still feeling the repercussions of that especially on rides with a lot of climbing.
Anyhow, I would at least like to get faster and improve my climbing so if you can call that a goal, as vague as it is, I guess that's it.
With that end in mind, this ride is part of their "strength spoke" on the "training wheel".
The instructions were to accelerate as hard as you can for 10 seconds and then recover and do 5 to 8 sets of that. The alternative approach, which I did, is to ride in rolling terrain and charge up short hills without downshifting or reducing cadence. Then on long hills, shift into a harder gear halfway up, stand and power over the top. The only thing was, I forgot about recovering in between until about halfway through so it was probably a harder workout than intended.
So I guess I'll keep working on strength and climbing for awhile then start mixing in some speed work.

Sunday's ride and a new "killer" hill

Sunday at about 4PM, Charles and I set out from my house for a ride up to Thatcher Park on the Helderberg Escarpment and back.
We immediately ran into a downpour but waited it out under some trees overhanging the road and it let up in a few minutes. That was the end of the rain for the rest of the ride.
Thatcher park was one of those "feared" milestones for me. Something I didn't expect to attempt for some time but I was used to Charles challenging me on each ride so I wasn't surprised. I accepted matter of factly because I have come to look forward to these climbs.
To spice it up a little (although Charles said it was to avoid traffic) we took a side route up to the Thatcher park road which turned out to be the challenge of the day. This road is steeper and rougher than the main road, turning into gravel on the last and steepest half. It was a hard workout for me but definitely do-able, not as hard as our previous attempt at Powell Hill. A really steep crest of only a few feet for a couple of nice all-out spins of the crank and we were at the top.
The rest of the ride to the park overlook was uneventful; a moderate but steady climb. We passed turn offs for the infamous Pinnacle Road which Charles insists I can do (but not today, please) and Indian Ledge. The overlook was at the 13 mile point and after a brief rest to enjoy the view (hazy) we turned back. I had been having some lower back pain to this point. I'm not sure what was up with that because bike riding has been the cure for that in the past. Perhaps all that climbing. In any event, it wasn't a problem on the ride back.
Of course the return ride was mostly downhill although we didn't go back the way we came but looped south and then east to about the 24 mile point, then turned northeast to home.
A very good workout!
Average HR 129. That's 73%MHR for me.
32.75 miles.
Riding time 2:33.
Calories burned1273.
Max Heart rate: 163
Average Speed: 12.76 mph
Max Speed: 35.1 mph
Ascent: 1187 ft
Descent: 1167 ft
Average Cadence: 67

Here's the route!


Progress!

I seem to be making some real progress in my cycling ability and I couldn't be more pleased.
Over 1 year of consistent training is starting to pay off.
I've been riding more frequently with my friend Charles and others and I believe it that has challenged me to push harder and also given me some validation that my fitness is improving.
A couple days ago I rode in the afternoon with Charles and a friend of his, Dan. We tackled Powell Hill which was my biggest challenge yet and none of us rode it all the way although Charles has done it before. I was standing on the pedals when they "just wouldn't go no mo". I'm thinking next time to try sitting on the last and steepest section and using the heels down-butt back, glute recruiting position that has been working so well for me recently.
This morning we rode with an old mutual friend Tom who hasn't ridden for awhile because he didn't have a ridable bike. He just bought a Jamis Ventura on eBay, literally yesterday and this was his shakeout cruise.
This ride was a lot of fun. Charles is still tour guide cause he's been riding these roads for 20 years. He hasn't run out of new ones (for me) yet. This was the first time I attempted to ride in a pace line (just 3 of us). I found it a little hairy to sit right on someone's wheel without being able to clearly see the pavement just ahead. I found myself enjoying the hills and pushing harder. I think I have been unconsciously taking it easy without realizing it as I'm getting fitter. I'm not having to work as hard to go the same speed. So I pushed it this time and got that "high" which i realized I haven't had for awhile. Feel terrific.
Charles commented that he's really seen my fitness progress since we started riding together and Tom commented that I was getting hard to keep up with. That made me feel really great!