Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bolton, New Shoes and Miscellany

This week I've been back to training even though the weather's been uncooperative.

Monday looked to be the warmest and driest day judging by the forecast, so I took the initiative to go for a short recovery ride.  Tuesday was cold and pouring so I rode for a little over an hour on the rollers before yoga class, then Wednesday was Bolton.

Ah, Bolton.  I posted on Facebook that I'd be climbing it, partially because I thought if I started talking about it to I'd actually do it.  My strategy worked, and I made my first trip to the top of the season. It started to rain about halfway up, and I ended up getting pretty soaked as I crept my way back down.  Amazingly enough it was still dry at the bottom and hadn't rained a drop.  

I felt pretty good and was able to stay smooth the whole way, but my time wasn't awesome.  Part of that was being tired from Tuesday's class and part of it is a result of some changes to my training this spring. 

In years past I've done a lot more road volume, but this year I'm really trying to spend more time offroad so that I can hone my skills.  It seems to be working, and I find myself riding faster, smoother, and braking less.  As a result I have a little less strength for very long, sustained climbs like Bolton, but when I consider the demands of my main events there really aren't many long climbs- they're short and punchy.

Thursday my new Pearl Izumi Octane MTB II's showed up, and I spent a few minutes at lunch getting the cleats setup.  I'll post some more thorough details on these after I have some more time on them, but so far I've been impressed.  They're light, stiff, and have a very good fit all while taking a unique approach to being a high end XC race shoe.

The less-than-stellar ascent of Bolton and new shoes were fuel enough for me to decide that I needed to do another hill climb so I made plans to do Cottonbrook and committed to doing it all in the big ring.

When I got to the trailhead I spent a couple minutes balancing like a one-legged scarecrow while adjusting my cleats on the new shoes, but overall my quick cleat setup method served as a great starting point (I'll post more on that later).  After that initial fiddling the shoes felt great and I made my way up the climb with relative ease.  I'd expected to be far more beat up from the previous day's ride, and although I wasn't setting the world on fire I did make it all the way to the top in the big ring.

My time was a little slower than my previous best this spring, and some of that was taking a deliberate pace but also I think struggling with such a tall gear on the steep sections is slower than turning a lower gear over.  I kinda knew that already, but it was interesting to see it first hand- the big ring is not always faster.

Also this week I made some strides on the next order of t-shirts.  Here's a draft version of the artwork.

The shirts are going to be dark gray heather- quite a bit darker than the background here, and the print will be a little lighter so there will be more contrast.  Cris at Factotum Design is printing them again and we should have them completed within the next couple weeks.  There will also be hoodies with the same art on a pre-order only basis.  If you are interested in either one let me know.

Also this week I've been wrestling with the intermittent performance of my aging heart rate monitor.  That may not seem like a big deal, but it means sometimes I'm flying blind without it and other times I'm just getting really frustrated that it's not working.  As soon as I can get the right battery I'm going to attempt this on an old chest strap.  It's not working now, so I really don't have anything to lose.


For now it's counting down to the end of the work day and getting ready for some more training this weekend.  There's still a slim chance that I might do Flower Power, but most likely I'll skip it and focus on getting some high quality riding done.

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