Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Summary

My Training started the week of Christmas so I was in full training mode when January 1st rolled around. I was somewhat derailed the first week back at work as I had to travel and so I knew that would put a dent in my miles but it’s early so I was happy to roll with the punches. Unfratnatly when I came back to LA is was sick that had a double whammie impact but I took a few days and bounced back pretty well.

Considering that I essentially missed a week I feel that I had a really good months all things considered and while my training is not miles based it’s nice to see them accumulate.


Importantly my TSS is accumulating. TSS or Total Stress Score is per Training Peaks is a composite number that takes into account the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at a single estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that training session.  It is conceptually modeled after the heart rate-based training impulse (TRIMP).  By definition, one hour spent at Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is equal to 100 points. There is more information on the topic here.


This coming weekend I have my first race of the year, the Rock Cobbler 3.0 a 100 mile gravel ride in Bakersfield. I am planning to modify the week to accomodate the Tour of Sufferlandria and still get a bit of a taper in. We’ve had pouring rain all day so who knows what the route will be like, in fact obody knows what the route is, it’s going to be announced this week!

Rock Cobbler Week 6

A big week, that was my plan, and while still following the TrainerRoad plan the rides are getting longer and the intensity is slowly increasing. Here’s how it shook out.

Monday TrainerRoad Pettit-1. Left GPS on...duh! Pettit is an hour of Aerobic Endurance spent mostly between 60-70% FTP. While riding 7 days a week every week is not the best thing in the world and trust me there are some rest days ahead and I really do find that I am better on a Tuesday if I ride on the Monday.


Tuesday. TrainerRoad Frissell. Usual 15 mins and cup of coffee at 5:30am blow away the cobwebs, aslo wanted to get to this this morning as I have a 3 hour ride tomorrow morning and need to maximize time in between rides. 4x9-minute intervals at 95% FTP with 9-minute recoveries at 50% FTP. Accuracy wasn't great on the high sections but consistency is getting better. Hips a bit tight too maybe due the higher than usual cadence work I did yesterday...or age...or both!


Wednesday TrainerRoad Flattop. An early start to get this done before breakfast! It was a bit of a slog and I struggled to find the right gearing, was either spinning at a good cadence and not enough power or at a lower cadence with too much power. Nearly 3 hours of Aerobic Endurance spent almost entirely between 60-70% FTP. Happy to get over this hump today and picked u a new 40k record and reduced it by 3 mins.


Thursday. TrainerRoad Spruce Knob. Just jumped in on this, held back a little of first 30 so I could meet target in second interval. 100% match on FTP target, Pushed harder on second 30 and was +5w. Spruce Knob is 2x30-minute intervals at 85% FTP with a 6-minute recovery between intervals. Week is shaping up nicely. Rolled 700 miles for month which is ok as I was down for a week with travel and being sick, still ~50 down on per day average for 10k year. Rolled 2000 miles on Vittoria Trainer tire. You can read my review of it here.


Friday. TrainerRoad Gibbs. Up and at it, another pre 5am start! Just cranking out the miles and filing the barn! Gibbs consists of 2 hours of aerobic Endurance spent between 60-70% FTP. Once I was in the groove cadence was good and felt strong. 61% in Z2!



Saturday. Inevitable come the weekend, come the weather, low cloud and gloom! That said 5 days and 10 hours on the trainer and was suffering from Cabin Fever! Plan was a 3-3.5 hour ride and a target of 50 miles in Zone 2/3. Mission accomplished, just over 2 hours in the 2-3 range and a little in Z4. Power zones were pretty well distributed which is not surprising given the climbs in the ride. Got caught in the rain during the last 5 miles so backed off otherwise would have gone sub 3 hours for the 50. Rolled 800 for the month!



Sunday. TrainerRoad Bald Knob and The Sufferfest The Other Side. 15 min warm up followed by 60 mins Endurance. Then switched over The Sufferfest  The Other Side and rode that at 85% and 10 min cool down. Short against today's target but I was over on yesterday!


Rounds out a big week with 566 TSS. 15:30 hours and 266 miles. Super happy!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Review; Vittoria Pro Trainer Tire

It’s probably no surprise that I ride my Trainer a lot, at least 4-5 sessions a week are indoors. I used to use my regular wheel with a regular tire on it. Obviously this wore out the rear tire a lot faster than front. When I flatted, in fact I shredded my tire last year I switched over to a trainer tire.

I did a bit of research and in the end settled on a Vittoria Pro Trainer Tire. My research was not overly detailed and was driven by cost and color! Of course red was a no brainer and the fact the 700x23 tire was less than $30 from Amazon went a long way to making up my mind! That said the reviews on Amazon and other places were very favorable and covered durability, overall use and cost.


This was back in September. Since then I have put on 2000 miles on it. 99.999% of these miles were on my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and the remainder on the recently sold Tacx Bushido.


The tire shows little wear and is not even close to wearing down the raised rails that run around the outside. Other key features I have noticed:

  • Gone is the light dusting of rubber over everything behind me
  • No squeak on the trainer roller
  • No slip on the trainer roller


I am tracking my mileage on it and will report back on when it finally dies. Right now that looks to be a long way out in the future!

In the meantime if you are interested you can pick one up from Amazon they’re available for $28.00.

This Tire was purcased by me! See previous gear reviews in the tab above. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gravel Gear; Bottle Cages

Bottle Cages, not the most interesting of bike items, but interestingly one that you can spend $5 or $100 on! I went for the lower end of the spectrum. I did however have some specifics in mind.

Because of the Tangle Bag that I will be fitting I needed to get some side entry cages that would allow me to pull the bottle out to the side rather than up which would be impeded by the bag. I did a bit of research, not much but some and decided on the Lezyne Side Load Flow Bottle Cage. They arrived and I fitted them.

Accidentally I ordered two right hand cages. This actually means, when mounted, I can pull out the bottles one from the left and one from the right.


They were taken for their maiden voyage last weekend performed without issue. Cheap, light and functional, can’t argue with that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

TrainerRoad; The Chase: an inside look at what it takes to be the best

Unless you have been living under a rock it will come as no surprise that I am a big fan and user of TrainerRoad!

TrainerRoad recently followed Justin Rossi and his life leading up to his most important race, the 2015 National TT Championships. Rossi is one of the fastest amateur cyclists in the country right now and after losing nationals by just nine seconds the year before he had something to prove and they had a camera.

More than a year later, they’re proud to share The Chase.

Inspired? Interested? Intrigued?

On the fence about giving it a try? Leave a comment below and someone* will get a free months trial!

*Must not be an existing TrainerRoad user

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rock Cobbler Week 5

Post travel and sickness I was anxious to have a solid week and these seven days didn’t disappoint. Monday was a holiday and so it seemed rude not to hop on the bike, anyway here’s all the details:

Monday, TrainerRoad Obelisk. Monday recovery ride makes Tuesday a better day. Obelisk is 4x3-minute intervals of leg-speed drills at a very low 60% FTP with 3 minutes of rest between intervals. Focused on keeping the pressure on the pedals light and the intensity low to moderate regardless of the cadence. Hopefully will set me up for a good FTP test tomorrow.


Tuesday, TrainerRoad 2x8 FTP Test. Second FTP in four weeks. Last time was a bust and I threw away the result and stuck with what I had, so I am happy to have today's marginal gain after 3 and a bit weeks of solid training, a week off traveling and a yucky cold thing. Solid first 8 mins second 8 was tough and I had a couple of unnecessary gear changes. Usual 15 mins warm and then another 28 minutes of warm-up, a couple of 8-minute time trials are used to assess Functional Threshold Power (FTP) & Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). The recovery interval between assessment efforts is 10 minutes. 234FTP (+1) 146LTHR (-4). Should put me back on track for 750m month.


Wednesday, TrainerRoad Flattop. A 4:00am alarm, an espresso and 3 hours of Aerobic Endurance spent almost entirely between 60-70% FTP including an early round of Power Sprints. Struggled at the end threw in some low cadence climbs to mix it up. Consider riding late last night early today I'll take it.


Thursday, TrainerRoad Tray Mountain. Took a while to get my legs up to speed and had to get off during second set to resolve something but other than that no problems. Week is shaping up nicely. Tray Mountain is 3x20-minute intervals at 85% FTP with 5-minute recoveries between intervals.


Friday, TrainerRoad Gibbs. This is turning into a big week, Gibbs consists of 2 hours of aerobic Endurance spent between 60-70% FTP. Optional form drills include Form Sprints, Endurance Spinning intervals. Lost some focus during third quarter, pulled it back at the end.


Saturday, TrainerRoad North Pack. Lots of hard work with this one but even after 5 big days I felt good. Usual 15 mins ramp warm up and I was into it. Group ride-like workout where riders spend a total of 59 minutes in the Sweet Spot (upper-Tempo/lower-Threshold) @ 85-95% FTP with the remaining time riding Aerobic Endurance between 55-75% FTP; 7-minute AE stretches between Sweet Spot efforts. 3x10-second Strength Sprints are included at the beginning of the ride to continue Force production capability as well as thoroughly warm rider.


Sunday, TrainerRoad Cheeseboro Loop. Six days on the trainer and the sun was out, this was a no brainer. Rode up Palo Comodo, over on Sheep Coral then back down The Ridge Trail. Had a sneaky double to Modelo and then from the Parking Lot picked up little loop round the back to round up mileage. Probably pushed the Lynskey through too many rocky sections and there was a bit of hike-a-bike. No problems on the fire roads though. Ran out of gears, need to look at bigger cassette. Great finish to the end of a big week.




Lots of good dirty fun and a couple of things learned;

  • I need a bigger cassette, I have ordered a 12-36, that will replace my 11-32 and the extra gearing will help on the climbs.
  • If it is in any way muddy I will need to change out my tires. I have very little clearance between the tire and the chainstay. I have a set of 33s and 32s both of which should give me the clearance I need.
  • I have swapped out the saddle bag from my Moutain Bike to the Lynskey and it rattles, nothing major but the contents need strapping down.

So like I said a solid week with just under 14 hours and 226 miles in the bank. This brings my year to date up to 606, I am about 50 miles behind the daily volume needed for a 10,000 mile year.

There is two weeks to the Rock Cobbler 3.0, they have been posting some funny videos of late, check out their Facebook page here.

Other than that training marches on!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Epic Rides; Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite via Tioga Pass

I thought I would start an occasional post series called Epic Rides. I am lucky enough to live in a State that offers a fair share of amazing routes that can be ridden. I am not sure how many I will ever get to do but here goes!

At the tail end of summer last year Becca and I headed out to Mammoth Mountain to get an extended training weekend. I was able with her support to ride one of the most memorable centuries rides I have ever done. After some research on Strava I came across a ride that would take me from Mammoth Village, where we were staying, to Yosemite Valley floor. It was to be a 113 mile ride and it would accumulate over 7000’ of elevation gain and with a high point of just under 10,000’.

I downloaded the route from Strava and upload it into my Garmin 810 so there would be no need to stop and a check my phone or a map along the way. I left Mammoth reasonably early knowing that it was not going to be a quick ride and as it was a point to point we would have a 100 mile drive home at the end!


The climb out of Mammoth Village was uneventful, a bit chilly but nothing not that a Vest and arm-warmers couldn’t cope with. I rode north east along the Mammoth Scenic Loop which lived up to its name. After a short climb,, during which I stripped off my arm warmers and vest, I was treated to 4 miles of downhill with broad sweeping corners and a nice wide bike lane. As I bottomed out I turn north on the 395 towards June Lake. The 395 was just a four lane highway and it rolled along without any issues. I had the mountains to my left and then the scenery just flattened out into high dessert  to the right. I crested Deadman Summit and hoped it was just a road sign and not one of things to come.

I have been to Mammoth a few times and had never been to June Lake, I was in for a treat. It’s a quaint little holiday village nestled at the bottom of June Mountain and Carson Peak. I would assume that the lake and the mountain are the main sources of tourism and revenue as you can boat and fish on the lake in the summer and ski June Mountain and Mammoth in the winter. All around were the colors of fall with the trees a mix of red and gold. It really was stunning. The ride around the lake was nice and rolling and I passed several more smaller lakes as I accumulated the miles.


At Grant Lake I got a good reminder of the drought the California has been experiencing, you can
really see it in this photo!


The road looped around and I finally popped back out onto the 395. At this point Becca caught up with me in the Van. She had been doing her own workout back in Mammoth and was about two hours behind me. I refilled my bottles with Skratch and stuffed my pockets with some Portables goodies that we had baked during the week. Five miles further on I made the left turn onto Tioga Road and steeled myself for the climb.

Tioga Pass serves as the eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park, at the Tioga Pass Entrance Station. It is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada. From the 395 to the high point and the Park’s entrance it is a 12 mile climb. The starting elevation is 6845’ and the finish is 9949’ at the Ranger Cabins. The climb itself it not overly steep it averages 4.9% but there are some sections that ramp up over 16%. There are three distinct section; the first three miles is a nice steady leg warmer, the next six miles are the meat of the effort with 2000’ of gain and the last three miles allow you to catch your breath and get your legs back under you. Of course it never looks like that when you riding up it! It just looks like a never ending climb. In the photo below the pass I am pointing to is where I am heading. 


Not surprisingly it’s a slog however you look at it and while the view is stunning there were a couple of times when I had to pullover to re-gather myself…and grab a selfie. You can see the where the road is over my left shoulder, it’s the light tan band heading down the hill.


At the top there was noticeably drop in temperature and also a back log of traffic paying to get into the Park. I caught up with Becca and stocked up again on fluids and food as well as putting my vest back on knowing that the descent would get cooler as the day was running out. The drop into Yosemite was a joy. Freshly resurfaced road and on the whole courteous drivers meant I could roll along at a good clip and enjoy digging the bike into the corners as I went. As the first climb leveled out around Tuolumne Meadows I had covered another 10 miles or so and barely pedaled a stroke and was at the 60 mile mark. Another quick pit stop with Becca and I was back on the road.

In contrast the first 50 miles of the ride the park was bustling with people. Cars on the side of the road by trail heads. People bouldering just off the side or the road. Motorcycle-Tourers, RVs and day visitors. Despite all these folks there was a nice bike lane and everyone was generous when overtaking me.

As you would expect the scenery was breathtaking, every corner you rounded there was a lake or a valley or a mountain. At times I had to concentrate to keep my eyes on the road.

IMG_8869IMG_8883IMG_8885 (1)

Much of the road been resurfaced and was a pleasure to ride. Overall I was losing elevation as I headed to the Valley floor which was another 50 miles away but there were some short sharp climbs along the way and few that took the wind out of my sails too. Around Mile 75 I had a 5 mile climb from Yosemite Creek campground up and past White Wolf Road but from there I was rewarded with another 10 mile descent to Big Oak Flat Road which would take me the Valley floor and eventually Curry Village where I would end the ride.

At this point the road narrowed considerably and there was an increase in traffic. I had merged with the traffic that had entered the Park from the west. The Valley floor is essentially a dead end with a loop so there was plenty of traffic going both ways. Combined with a narrower road I had a couple of close shave with drivers passing me.  In addition the nice smooth tarmac ran out. This final descent into Yosemite Valley was brutal. There were frost cracks in the road every 10 yards. After 100 or so miles this was making my hands numb my feet numb and I had to shut my mouth to stop my teeth falling out my head! I found a safe place to stop and called it with just over 102 miles on the clock!
Becca caught up with me. We loaded the bike in the Van and headed back to Mammoth to get cleaned up and have a nice steak and beer!


All in all it was a great day and quite the adventure! I would definitely call this a bucket list ride. I was lucky to get this ride in when I did as a couple of weeks later the pass closed for the winter.

In terms of logistics I would say that’s it’s a doable ride if you want to solo it. There are several places to stop to refill bottles and grab food. Of course if you ride it point to point you will need someone to come and pick you up otherwise you’ve got a big ride to get back to Mammoth. As with all my crazy adventures I was lucky to have Becca providing SAG for me throughout the day!

Here is the Strava file and the Veloviewer file.

Some useful resources:
Go any questions, leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Gravel Gear; Inner Tubes

With big tires comes big Inner Tubes. I picked up some Specialized Airlock tubes at a local bike shop. who knew that sealant prefilled tubes exist? I fitted them today with the Clement Tires. The first one went one without issus, the second was a bit pissy with the sealant coming out a bit at the valve. I was told they were a sealed system but having a valve negates that!

Anyway now the tubes and tires are on. I was a bit concerned about the tire clearance nearest to the bottom bracket, it’s pretty tight and if encounter any mud it could be problematic. Keeping an eye on the future and remember that last year’s DK200 was muddy and it’s been raining some here lately I swapped out a pair of Gatorskins I had on a Facebook Group for some narrower Clement tires. They should be here by the end of the week so I can see how they fit. 7mm doesn’t sound like a lot but it is!
I was undecided about the dust caps. I decided to put them back on as it is off road but I went with black instead of red in the end.

Becca also found me a helpful video on how to recenter disc brakes, this worked like a charm!

And with that the wheels were done!

Rock Cobbler Week 4

This week marked the end the end of this Training Block. Given that last week I was traveling and then sick this can be best described as pulling a white rabbit out of hat full of shit!

Monday, I was sick and off work and off training.

Tuesday, TrainerRoad Carrigan, After Sunday and Monday off with sore throat/lost voice thing started back up where I left off. Still rasping throat when I breathed hard so dialed this back to 90%. Usual 5 mile warm up followed by a couple of extra miles to round up to 25. 60 minutes of mostly Aerobic Endurance work spent between 60-80% FTP with the addition of 3x3-minute Force Intervals with 3 minute's rest between them and 3x10s Strength Sprints followed by 6 minutes of Tempo work.


Wednesday, TrainerRoad. Gibbs.15 min warm up followed by Gibbs, 2 hours of aerobic Endurance spent between 60-70% FTP. All Zone 2/3 work, Throat still sore but getting better.


Thursday, TrainerRoad, Black. Ran out of day, should have been a two hour session so opted for a one hour ride and dialed it back 5% as I will add the 2 hours back in tomorrow. Couple of miles to warm up and then an hour of aerobic Endurance riding ranging from 50-80% FTP with no recovery.


Friday, After yesterday’s bust I had hoped to get on the bike for a couple of hours, thinking that I could one a 1, 2, 3 over Friday Saturday and Sunday, instead I spent the evening at Urgent Care with a sick kid, Strep Throat!

Saturday, TrainerRoad, Koip Finally feeling like I am firing on 4 cylinders, 6 or 8 will come in time! Koip consists of nearly 2.5 hours of aerobic Endurance riding spent between 60-75% FTP.


Sunday. Outside. First Century of the year albeit a metric one. Plan was 3 hours of 65-75% of FTP on the trainer but it was a jersey and bibs kinda day. Kept with the right percentages as much as possible although had a couple of fun sprints and dug in on a few of the climbs. Got a bit chilly at the end. Happy to pull this week out of the crapper as being sick last weekend and earlier on took it's toll on top of traveling last week



So as you can see the week got better as it went on. My original plan was to go with the TrainerRoad Traditional High Volume III plan but I am considering the Sweet Spot plan instead, need to do a bit of research and thinking on this.

Totals for the week, 11:31 and 197.5 miles…rounding up, not this week!