Winter Training 2011

~Colorado Rocks~

A couple of years ago training outdoors was never an issue because I was a runner. A runner can, for the most part make it out for a run in almost any climate. Winter training as a runner consisted of long runs in the snow, frozen eyelashes, and numb fingers. Still, I enjoyed winter running more than most other seasons. I have always enjoyed seeing people out training or exercising in some fashion. Usually most people come out of the woodwork once spring rolls around. The winter for myself was a time of solace independence. A time when the majority of people would be inside by the fire place wrapped up in a blanket. A lot of my time running back in New York was spent at night. I would run a few miles over to the local park and make my way to the lake. It was a small lake and usually by January it was frozen over. Once I arrived, I would stare at the reflections of the lamp posts on the lake. It was a nice time to reflect and even become relaxed in the cold temperatures. I still miss those winter running days and nights.

Training in Colorado has been going very well. My power numbers and heart rate zones are at or above what I expected. I’ve even had to scale back a few times in my training so I wouldn’t over-reach. The weather here on the front-range is everything I imagined it to be. Temps in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. You couldn’t ask for better winter training. There will be a week of warm sunshine weather, and then a brief period of winter’s roar.

The past few weekends have been spent doing group rides which start about twenty minutes from my house. It’s a nice Warmup through Chatfield State Park before I get to the parking area where everyone meets. The Saturday group ride has a title called The Hour of Power or more recently Wadsworth Worlds. The first time I rode the Saturday group ride it started at 10:00 A.M. On the weekends I like to get an early start to my training because I’m usually riding upwards of three hours. I don’t mind the cold too much, and being from the Northeast made me realize cyclists in the Rockies and on the front range are quite spoiled with warm February temperatures. The first time I did this Saturday ride I was hurting quite bad. I didn’t know the loop, how fast it would be, and after a month of no riding it was common to be suffering. After my first weekend experience a bunch of guys decided to start a different group at 9 A.M. This was great news for me. I thought to myself even if it’s slower I could sit on the front and get my interval work done for the day. Turns out rumor must have spread around because lots of “faster” guys seemed to show up. For the next few weekends I got more used to the loop, when people attack, and when breakaways actually stick. There are specific points when it makes sense to attacks and other strips of pavement where you are better off sitting in. The first “sprint” of the ride is half way to the top of the arrowhead golf course. The road leading to the golf course is a gradual climb so it leaves your legs a little tired before the actual sprint starts. I haven’t been challenged much during this sprint because it suits me well. Long gradual climb with a very steep finish. One specific rider who usually beats me is a 16 year old junior. I hope he gets to ride at the pro tour level.

This past Saturday the weather called for 55 and sunny skies. I had a feeling it would be a big group and it sure was. I would say there were upwards of 60 guys. Leading up to the arrowhead golf course I sat on the “juniors” wheel and when he made his move there were only a few who could follow. A quarter-mile from the finish the group was thinned down to three. We soon caught two guys who went off the front a bit early. Coming into the sprint I made a short quick move on the right side and gave it everything I had up the short steep pitch. Still, it wasn’t enough and the junior passed me at the line. I have come to the realization it was not a matter of effort or power which resulted me in getting passed. I believe it was my mental state. Although it was a brief split-second gesture, I turned my head to see if he was on my wheel. Once I realized he was right behind me I panicked and lost my concentration. Right then and there is when I got passed. Right then and there is when I lost my mental focus.

Group rides are a training training tool for one’s fitness, but it also allows us to resolve some of our cognitive more intimate issues. Once our mind starts to wander or break away from the goal at hand we are left with a less fluid forward motion. It’s important for all of us to remember how important our psychological state can be during the “heat-of-the-moment”. In cycling you need to be a rational chess master of yourself, teammates, and competition. If we take the time to find confidence and power within our selves we can achieve a courage most will never solicit. In a sense our bodies are here to shield us from our most internal and true secrets. Life in terms of competition has taught us to train our bodies to perfection. This is only the battle, it does not win us the war. Throughout life we seek to satisfy a fire that burns within. We create depictions of what we want ourselves to look like, dress, and act. But, the hardest most difficult part of all is seeking out the true inner being inside of us all. In relation to training one must find a balance between mind and body conditioning. A question I find myself asking from time to time is, “Are you happy?” Happy in the sense of life, training, and any other situation. What this question does is open doors to more complicated questions. What are these questions? Where are the answers? How does this effect me?  Ask yourself and you might fancy a new meditative state. Many times in life we are presented through the media, papers, friends, and family about what’s not working in the world. It’s important when in competition to focus on what IS working and how we can use this form of positive power to enrich our lives and the lives of others.

~The Epic Ride ~

Each day out on the bicycle is a new adventure. Whether for training, pure pleasure, or spending time with a significant other, cycling can bring about changes in one’s self. Cycling can also show us how far the human body can be pushed, how we can create new and higher limits for ourselves which we never though possible. It’s as if without trying these obstacles are brought about at certain times, usually when we do not expect them. These situations are the closest idea to what I believe represents perfection. The idea of perfection is quite simplistic. In my mind perfection is when a person is faced onerous tasks which require one’s true colors to be drawn. I’m still not sure if this personal excursion is the pinnacle of perfection or the most epic story, but it has made me face adversity.

When one is faced with such tribulation, a great story can arise.

Sunday’s have been spent doing smaller group rides. Usually only 10-20 people show up Sunday mornings near Chatfield Park to ride. I assume most others are on team rides, sleeping in, or doing other activities.

~There Is Never Nothing Going On~

About a dozen of us headed up Deer Creek Canyon at 9AM. The weather was in the mid 40’s and sunny. When the temps are above freezing and you are climbing in Colorado it tends to heat up your body quite fast. Coming down is another story as you fight to keep warm and loose. We hit the first few turns up the canyon and right away there was ice all over the road. The black ice should have been a red flag to turn around but of course being the cyclists we are our egotistical personalities take over and there is no turning back. We rode on. After making the left turn which takes you up to high grade road it started to lightly snow on us and the road became a covered white blanket. I stopped on the side of the road with a few others as we discussed to either keep going or turn around. Turning around seemed like the best option but because of all the black ice behind us we were stuck. Descending on black ice is never a fun undertaking. The sun was out, so we thought it was just a slight change in weather. Still, we kept going. More black ice, more snow. About half turned around but a few of us thought it would be deadly trying to descend the icy canyon. We thought if we made it to the top of high grade (8,500ft) we could ride down Route 285 which is a higher car traffic road. Bad idea!

The tough switch-back section was a dream. Sunny with no snow or ice. Then, after the switchbacks more black ice and snow. It was a nervous time, I won’t lie. But, because we were climbing we could stay upright without getting too scared. The rest of the way up wasn’t so bad as it’s pretty much exposed to sunlight. When we got the schoolhouse rest stop one of the guys got a flat. It was still sunny out but then out of nowhere these big black clouds filled the sky. Then boom! Snow, wind, sleet, rain, and hail. All at once! It was a nightmare. I didn’t have my winter cycling gloves. My hands were sweating from the climb and I was frozen to the core. I called Maija but she was running. So we made our way back down stopping every few minutes to warm our hands up. After about a half hour we were past the switchbacks and the road was dry again. At this point there was only three of us left. The two other cyclists went ahead and I was left alone to take my time plummeting the mountain. Then, without notice I was on my backside sliding down a piece of black ice. I picked my bike up and started down road again. My back was tight, hamstring tight, clothes wet, and hands soaked. Now I was in bad shape.

My teeth started to chatter and I felt my body start to shake. I stopped again to retrieve my cellphone. No use there as half way into phoning Maija, my battery died. A few more swear words and I was back in the saddle and cold to the core. A little more ways down the road I saw a cyclist going up the canyon. I stopped him and asked if I could use his cellphone. Unfortunately there was no service on this part of the canyon and since there was no one else around I proceeded back up the mountain with the gentleman to find cell phone service. Although a nice guy, he told me “I’m in the middle of my high-intensity workout, I hope that’s OK”. “Sure” I said. I was not going to plead with the guy to ride slow since he was doing me a favor. Normally I can climb well but riding back up the mountain was the last thing on my mind. Each pedal stroke made my legs ache even more, and my breathing became more labored. The only two positive results of acceding was warming up a bit and getting a chance to phone Maija for a ride home. We made it half way up the switchbacks and he said he would make a call to Maija as soon as he got service again. I thanked him and again started to descend. This time it was not so bad as the road was 90% dried up. I slowly made my way down the canyon and once I got to the flat section I saw a blue car drive past. It was Maija! She has just finished her run at Deer Creek Canyon Park and had received a few calls from the cyclist. I threw the bike in the car, warmed my feet on the dashboard as Maija drove me home. I felt more appreciative of the weather in the mountains. Mountain weather is anything but consistent and it helped me to prepare better the next time around.

~Sunday Was An Epic Day~

 


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A New Year – 2011 Training Ideas

It’s now February and New Years Eve seems like a distant memory. But, looking at the calendar every day of the month can be the start to the new year. The last few days in Colorado we had some rough weather. Actually, I believe it’s the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced. While it’s close to impossible to train outdoors during this brief time period, it does not mean training should totally expire. Maija has been going to her team’s trainer sessions on Tuesday and Thursday nights. This means she has to bring a bike, bike trainer, fan, and front-wheel block. Ah, what we will do to get a good workout in. I haven’t needed to use the trainer in almost a month. Everyday (up until the last week) has been in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Amazing! New York / New Jersey weather during the winter is more consistent with temperatures usually never above 40 until March. Still, I’d much rather have weather inconsistencies here in Colorado than wake up to bleak cloudy days back east. Still, with a week of bad weather, I set up the trainer in the cold basement and watched old Tour De France DVD’s. I have found watching TV is more of a distraction than watching movies, or just strapping my I-Pod on. It’s good for your mind to be as stable as each pedal revolution. I strongly believe indoor training is a good time to work on the mental side of your game. You can truly look at yourself from an internal perspective and almost completely zone out from the rest of the world. Try picking a place in the house where you will not be distracted by family, friends, or even pets. My dogs seem to like the indoor trainer, especially Cooper and Mickey. They will come lay in the basement and get as close to the trainer as possible. The pups are at easy with the overlapping sound the bicycle trainer makes. The more consistent my pedaling is, the better they sleep. So, you can even play a game with yourself and see how long you can keep up the trainer so they do not awake. I know my pups will awaken as soon as I change gears, or free-spin. It’s as if they were in some trance, and the only thing that will snap them back to reality is the cadence change of the trainer. Very cool!

Sometimes we need not brave the outdoors and submit to the trainer.

Find out what works for you as an athlete. If you are not able to train outdoors because of inclement weather, there are various possible alternatives to break a sweat, or continue down the path of your training regimen.

If you are a cyclist, ask yourself what workouts you prefer on the trainer or rollers.  Personally I like short -fast intervals on the trainer with little rest. This keeps me motivated on power-output and less worried about my time expenditure.

One specific trainer workout I love is as follows:

10-15 minute warm up – Spin nice an easy – Heart rate 100-130 BPM – Power 135-150

10 x 2 minute intervals with 1 minute rest  – 15% Above 1 Hour Threshold Power or HR

10 x 1 minute intervals with 1 minute rest – 25% Above 1 Hour Threshold Power or HR

5-10 minute cool down – Power 150<

I like this workout because it teaches us to understand high power / heart rate output for short periods of time. Many times doing fast hard intervals outdoors leaves us with a confusing understanding of perceived effort because of wind direction, temperature, or road terrain. It also forces us to concentrate for short period of times, have a short rest, and then hit the gas pedal again. A bicycle race or group ride is anything but consistent unless you are in a break away / pace-line. Even then, you are still working hard at different points based on other riders and road gradient. During this workout I will also focus on my position on the bike. I will ask myself questions such as; Where do I like to sit during a short hard push? How is my pedal stroke? Do I feel efficient? Listen to your bicycle trainer. Does it have a smooth uniform sound? Or does the sound change after each pedal revolution?

Other trips for this year’s winter / spring riding.

1. Get a bicycle fit. If you have a few extra dollars saved up, find a fitter who has Spin Scan Cycle technology. This will help figure out how efficient your pedal stroke is comparatively to the left and right leg. My best score is 75-78 for 5 minute intervals, see if you can beat it!

2. Check over your riding apparel. Are there holes, rips, tears, and other problems with your riding clothing? Many shops are now having winter clothing sales.

3. Hydrate! Check your urine. Yuck! Yes gross but make sure it’s as clear as possible. Yellow? Drink more water.

4. Figure out a schedule and start looking at posted races for the upcoming month. Many races will close out fast so it’s important to sign up in advance if this race is important to you. Many times I will not register for races until a few days before. Usually it’s because I know those races do not commonly close out for my race category.

5. Cross Train – Take time out of your training schedule to have a rest or cross training day. This is quite important for the body and the mind. Take your dog on a hike, swim, cyclocross, mountain bike, ski, rollerblade, ETC. There are so many great ways to cross train and during the winter it’s important to switch things up. The main reason I like to cross train in the winter is because I do not like to cross train off the bike during the spring / summer. During the racing months I am very focused on training, resting, and racing. So, during the winter I try and take advantage of all those other fun activities.

If you a runner, and it’s impossible to get outside then this treadmill workout might be fun for you. Remember you can run in a lot colder weather than you can ride a bicycle, just remember to dress correctly. I believe running in the cold is a lot easier to dress for than in the heat. We have many different layers to choose from, and if picked correctly you can remain comfortable during your training session. Sometimes we are faced with 0-20 degree days where you can experience chest discomfort. This is not always a negative sign. This sensation of breathing in and out cold air is a slight irritation of the lining in the throat and lungs and is never a serious long-term issue. If you are ever trying to decide whether to run on the treadmill than outside, consider cross-country ski racing and how hard those athletes breathe during competition. Infrequently do they have issues with cold air breathing and for the most part, are breathing harder than you and I during cold weather training days. It’s more important to make sure zero to five percent of your skin is exposed to the cold air. Also, remember to warm up correctly and tack on a few extra minutes if doing a hard cold outdoor workout. Your car thanks you for warming it up every morning in the winter, do the same for your body.

“The human body has an excellent internal air heating system, which rapidly heats inhaled air to prevent freezing of lung tissue.” ~ Jack Daniel’s

If because the wind chill brings temperatures into dangerous negative numbers, then yes the treadmill is the best option. One workout I like to do on the treadmill is as follows:

2 mile warm up.

30 – 45 minute tempo run and increasing my pace 10% each five minutes.

1 mile at 5k race pace.

Cool down 10+ minutes

If running at a gym or fitness center, try not to worry about other running around you. Sometimes we want to size ourselves up to other runners but it’s important to stick to your own pace and goals. Also, remember to put your incline at 0.5 or 1.0. Running on a treadmill at 0.0 will actually have a descending effect. If you want to simulate running outdoors with a wind try those inclines and do your normal running routine. It is also good to use an slight incline to have a less landing shock to your legs. Don’t cheat yourself! I also recommend treadmills over small indoor tracks with tight turns. If you know a local indoor 200 meter running track then great, but be weary of those running tracks at fitness and recreation centers. They are usually only 150 meters in length with tight turns and long straightaways. Those turns can have an adverse effect on your running form and can lead to small nagging injuries which could have been avoided.

Winter training, whether on a bicycle or running can be fun and enjoyable if done correctly and with a specific purpose to keep you motivated when the temperature starts dropping.

 

New York State of Mind

This holiday season Maija and I took separate vacations to visit family in Michigan and New York. I few home on a red eye last Wednesday night into JFK on one of the most relaxing flights I have ever been on. About five to ten minutes after take off I put in some ear plugs, closed my eyes and dozed off into La La land. After a good 2 1/2 hours of sleeping I awoke by the flight attendant telling us we had 25 minutes before landing. Not one bump or shake of the plane. It felt as if I was floating on cloud 9. Well if anything I was floating somewhere around 36,000ft. With an easy flight I grabbed my suitcase and my Dad picked me up a few minutes thereafter. It was a cold crisp morning in New York and right away a rush of damp smoggy filled air filled my lungs. “Ah right at home I said”.


Being back in the Big Apple brought about nostalgic feelings of fresh bagels, good pizza, traffic, and family affairs. But, these feelings only last so long until I grow homesick of the mountains and all of it’s wonderment. The ocean will never replace the mountains.


I arrived home a little after 8 to meet Kramer my parents new dog for the first time. It was a bit uncanny to find a new canine friend there waiting for me; Especially in the house I grew up in. Kramer has a cage he stays in when there is no one home. He seems content laying in his cage and only gets up, filled with excitement when my father goes over to let him out. If I was to leave Frito or Cooper in a cage they would go berzerk based on their confine surroundings. Mickey, has for the most part gotten used to his cage. If we leave a bone for him to chew he usually doesn’t cause a ruckus. My father let Kramer out of the cage and he came running over to sniff me and introduce himself. This only lasted a short thirty seconds to a minute before he ran back to my father’s comfort. Dogs have a funny way of picking out the person they admire, trust, and respect the most. The first day with Kramer he barely came over to me. If I walked closer to him or showed interest in what he was doing, he would walk briskly in the opposite direction. If I ignored him, he would ignore me. This situation is something I am not used to. The majority of dogs I meet even those with serious behavioral and training problems warm up to my demeanor and energy within minutes. Kramer was definitely a challenge, a challenge I am always up for!


Not bringing my bike home posed some challenges for my training. I thought about using my Dad’s bike but after careful consideration it was not worth changing his bicycle position around to accommodate my meticulous riding regime. I thought about swimming but without proper goggles and a bathing suit, it made it hard for me to pay $10 to swim at the local aquatic center. I used to pay $2.50 with my military discount so $10 seems a bit steep! Without many other options I decided to run for the next few days while at home in New York. For my first run I took Kramer with me. Kramer is a Wheaten Terrier who at the time had a full fluffy coat of hair. Once we were away from the house I could tell he was getting used to my presence more. Sometimes it takes absence from their owner and home until a canine will show their true colors. We made it about a mile and a half before he started to slow down. Not bad for a dog who sat in a cage at a puppy mill for the first five years of his life. My parents rescued him from a Wheaten Terrier only rescue organization. It took the help of four to five volunteers to drive him to the New York area where my Dad could pick him up. If I ever happen to own a large portion of land I would love to help rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home dogs who were bound for the kill centers. Not sure Maija would like that though as she we probably want to keep all of them!

If you are ever thinking about getting a dog please take some time to contact your local rescue organization. There is an overpopulation of dogs in the United States. The good thing? There are plenty of amazing dogs that need homes! We all love specific dogs based on their demeanor, appearance, and so forth. There are plenty of “Full Breed” rescue organizations across the country which will work with you to find the right dog for your home.






My mom and I decided to go for a hike at one of the only trails left in Nassau County. The snow was coming down quite hard and I had a feeling my mom would want to postpone the adventure. Fortunately I was impressed when my mom got her hiking shoes on and was ready for the trip. We hiked out about 35 minutes before turning back and covering the same path we had just created. Only a few lonely animal footprints and one other shoe-print were all the tracks on the trail. Other activities included taking Kramer (my parent’s dog) to the West Hills Dog Park. The park is great in terms of size. It’s about two full acres and is in the shape of a square. This gives lots of room for dogs to roam and play. The downside to this park in particular was all the dog poop my dad and I realized was on the ground. We even saw one dog pooping right in front of his owner with the woman not even flinching to pick up after her dog. Normally I would have said something but I didn’t want to create a scene in case my dad decides to bring Kramer back there. The day before I left I also got to see my sister and her little boy Jack. Jack is getting bigger by the minute and is full of energy about the world. The trip to NY was relaxing and enjoyable. I’m glad I was able to drink coffee with my mom and have great conversation.



Here are some pictures from the NY Trip.

For some reason a lot of them came out unclear.

My mom and I hiking during a Long Island snowfall.

My Dad and his dog.

Uncle Adam!

Kramer and my parents.

I definitely had a great time drinking coffee and eating cookies!

Isn’t that what being home is all about?!


The Flight home: My flight was not scheduled until 9:30 so I was able to spend most of the day relaxing at home and then had dinner with my parents. The weather in NY was fair but across the country it was an entirely different story. I got to the airport about an hour an half early. I’d much rather sit around reading a book or listening to my I-pod than rush to the gate. When Maija went to Michigan she had less than 30 minutes to get through security and board the plane. I think I was more stressed than her! So, with time to spare I threw headphones on and began to watch people busy themselves around the airport. Soon after dozing off to some Jack Johnson I noticed my flight was delayed 90 minutes. Ugh! I knew there was a snow storm in Denver so the only possible reason could have been it was taking a while for the plane to get here from Colorado. Finally, around 10:15 we boarded the plane. Just as my red eye flight to New York there was only one woman in the row with me. The seat in between myself and the other woman was empty. “Ah”, a sign of relief came over me. Once the plane closed it’s doors it was another 45 minutes on the runway before we even took off. Taking off from JFK is not the most fun. The runways are short and jam-packed together so the pilot has to hit the gas at full throttle. Once in the air the first two hours or so were pleasant. This was all about to change. On Jetblue flights you have a screen where you can watch TV or even view your actual flight position. From my window seat I looked out and realized we were flying over Lake Michigan. Usually when flying to Denver you go straight across the country traveling parallel with I-70. The mid-west must have been filled with bad weather too. As I’m gazing out the window I noticed we were headed straight into a storm. Things didn’t get too bad until we were over Nebraska. Then the turbulence started to kick in. Bump after bump hit the plane and my hands started to sweat. I stared out the window watching the wing flop up and down. Once we made our final descent into Denver I could see we were landing in the middle of a snow storm. The landing was so rough I could hear two people throwing up. Once on the ground I felt gratified for being able to survive such a flight. Hopefully I won’t have to fly again for a while. If I do fly however, I’m going to bring Mickey along. On my flight there was a woman with her Border Collie Mix. I asked her how she was able to bring her pup on the plane without a cage. She told me if they are a therapy dog then they can fly with you. Guess who is getting their therapy dog certification?


In other news, I got my butt whooped when I went cross-country skiing with Maija a few weeks back. Sometimes I forget just how great an athlete she really is. My competitive male ego kicks in and there are times a man needs to be put in his place. In the past, Maija and I have trained together mostly either by going for runs, or with her sitting on my wheel as we tour the rural parts of New Jersey. But, in cross-country skiing she has me at a standstill. For the time being 😉 The high country in Colorado is a site for all eyes. The sweeping views of mountains and snow let you stand in awe as you try and gaze upon it’s massive size proportions.


I’ve also received my USA Cycling Level 3 Certification. I will be looking forward to having more client’s in the future. If you or you know someone who is looking for running or cycling coaching services please forward my contact information below. I am reasonably priced and I believe I have the necessary tools for one to achieve success at their next cycling or running event. All athlete levels are welcome. It does not matter if you are a professional athlete or a recreational one, we can all benefit from obtaining a coach. I will design a specific program for each person and they will have direct contact with me. I specialize in road cycling, road and track running as well as cross country running. Unlike many other coaching programs or companies you are not pushed off to another coach. I will provide 100% complete open communication with each athlete. I am personally committed in advancing and creating the athlete each and everyone of us besots.


Adam Zimmerman

USA Cycling Level 3 Coach

Velocadence1@gmail.com

>Three Dogs and a Little Lady

>

Friday December 24th, Maija and I drove out to Golden where we rode up Lookout Mountain together. Maija wanted to use the 4+ mile climb as a field test to gauge her power and bicycle fitness. I rode along for the pure fun and to get in a somewhat dignified workout myself. After the bike build and being fit by George Mullen, I was still a little finicky with my overall body placement on the bike and from the start of the ride in downtown golden I was using a #4 hex key to play with my saddle and seat post position. Once we crossed the main road where the actual climb begins, I told Maija to go ahead as I would catch up after spending more useless time with the bicycle position. Bicycle position itself is equivocal, with the understanding each person can simply ride various positions on a bicycle. While power meters and spin-scan-cycles have given us support in finding ones riding position weaknesses it cannot substitute overall ride comfort. Over the past 2 and 1/2 years of racing I have put myself into many different positions on the bicycle with a few main conclusions.

#1 – Bicycle position can look good but if it doesn’t feel good it’s useless.


#2 – I like a high seat post position.


#3 – As with medical doctors, it’s can always be useful to obtain a secondary fit opinion.


A couple more minutes and I am cranking my way up Lookout mountain, chasing Maija down. The climb starts off with a 3-4% gradient so there is no time for a warm-up. With only a solid week of training behind me my breathing is lethargic and labored. Still, since it’s only 10 minutes into the ride my legs respond with great power. Just a week before I was barely hanging on to a team ride in Boulder as Philip Mooney sat on the front and drove the pace the majority of the time for 3-4 hours. I was totally spent at the end of that ride. At the same time, with only one week of solid training on my legs I couldn’t expect to feel like my CAT2 self.


Up and up I went. After about 1.5 miles I could make out Maija in the distance. She looked back a few times to see if I was catching. Once caught, she looked strong on the bike so I told her I was going ahead for a while. I caught one rider and then another. Funny thing was even though I was catching others, Maija was catching up to me! She was having a great day on the bike and for a girl who was riding her TT bike I was thoroughly impressed! Now if only I can get her into competitive bicycle racing 😉 I decided to ride with her the rest of the way up. Aside from a small patch of slick ice, the road to the top was sunny and dry. We rode past the actual finish of the climb to the Boettcher Mansion where we stopped to put on our wind jackets for the descent. I am gaining more confidence in my descending skills with each mountain ride. I’m learning how to drive the bicycle into switchbacks with more speed and precision. Ironically, the faster I take a turn with the bicycle the more smooth each switchback feels. Still, I am a novice when it comes to descending. A couple caught me and followed my every move the rest of the way down. I couldn’t shake them! Once back to the car we threw on some regular clothes, grabbed some Starbucks, and made our way to Wheatridge where we picked up some Italian Rainbow cookies from an actual Italian bakery. It’s definitely one part of the NY Metro area I miss. Real authentic Italian bakeries.

Boettcher Mansion on top of Lookout Mountain



Christmas was fun. Especially for a Jew from New York. Since it was our first Christmas together Maija and I decided on creating our own traditions for the holiday festivities. Christmas eve we opened presents with the pups. It was fun and gave way to the overnight anxiety placed on ones self. Having to wait until Christmas morning to open presents can be tough on one’s mind!

Frito Christmas morning getting his daily suntan.

 

For the holiday’s Maija bought me the weekend subscription to the NY Times. This was definitely the best gift! I can’t tell you how nice it is to have breakfast morning conversations over interesting articles, sided with the nice cup of coffee. Print newspaper will always remain a significant part of my intellectual being. To this day holding, reading, and discussing newsworthy articles from print will continue to be a realistic media outlet while computer screen information prevails as the culprit!

Fast forwarding to Christmas morning Maija was busy at the stove making Riisipuuro which is a Finish dish her mother makes back in Michigan. Since our visit to Michigan, and before making the move out west I was introduced to an amazing Finish bread called Pulla. It’s texture is soft but does not have the boggy feel some other European breads give off. Topped with a sizable amount of almonds and powdered sugar and it’s one tasty treat! We ended up not making Pulla this holiday season because of some ingredient issues and attempts to make gluten free Pulla is not an easy feat!

 

Maija made a great Christmas morning breakfast!
The bowls are waiting to be filled with Riisipuuro!
Flowers from me to my love 🙂
Gifts waiting to be opened Christmas Eve.
Riisipuuro!


The Road Ahead 2011

Deer Creek Canyon Road is an amazing climb I can ride from my house. If ridden from my house to the start of the parking area it’s a good 25 minute warmup through Chatfield State Park. The overall distance of the climb varies depending on where you start. It’s definitely one of the more popular climbs in the area as it summits somewhere over 8,000ft. I’ve done this ride about a dozen times now and have almost memorized every twist, turn, and switchback on the way to the summit. Traffic can be light to moderate depending on the time of day. Most of the way up there is a sizable shoulder and drivers do give you enough room when passing (mostly). The popular place to start is a small parking area right off the main road (Wadsworth Blvd..) If starting from the parking area it’s about 13-14 miles to the top. Once at the top you can explore more towns such as Conifer and Evergreen. I haven’t done much riding past the summit but I definitely plan to this coming spring.

The first five kilometers of the climb are somewhat easy. You are gaining altitude but the road gradient is rather undemanding. If rode easy you wouldn’t even realize you were climbing if acclimated to the altitude. Another kilometer or two and you will see a turnoff to the left with a road that leads to Deer Creek Canyon Park. This is where Maija and I have taken the dogs on some nice hikes during my month off the bike. As you keep on the same road it then begins to climb with around 3-5 switchbacks all with moderate gradients. Once past the switchbacks you can either continue on the same road which will climb for another 15-20 minutes or you can turn left and proceed to High Grade Road which will bring you to the summit. If you make a left turn you will pass the house Maija and I were thinking of renting. The house remains vacant and I become nostalgic whenever I ride past it. Now, once you have made the left it’s 2.1 miles of straightforward climbing with no gradient peaks over 5%. The next part is where it gets hard. The road then kicks up into a whirlwind of switchbacks with hits over 12%. It’s hard, and with a headwind almost seems impossible. After this climbing section it’s another 2-3 miles to reach the top. A few more switchbacks and climbing straights and you are there. Overall riding elevation gain is about 3,000ft.

Now to the Deer Creek Story….

The other day I decided to climb High Grade as I’ve done plenty of times before. There were a few dozen cyclists out on the road with temps in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s. Once I reached the first few switchbacks I realized there were not many riders willing to travel through the icy patches on the road. Honestly, only a stretch of 1-2 miles is a bit dangerous and then the sun is in full effect the rest of the way up. A couple of times I had to get off my bike and pull to the side of the road to let cars pass. The entire shoulder was covered with snow and ice. I was not about to play games with passing cars. Most drivers gave me a “Thank You Wave” when passing and I did not mind letting them go ahead. I turned left to continue to High Grade road and the temperature started to drop considerably. I could see my breath and had to put my full fingered gloves back on. Usually when climbing I won’t wear gloves. Even in 40-50 degree weather. My hands sweat too much and the descent makes them unbearably cold. Although it was only my second accent up Deer Creek since my training resumed I felt a great sense of power and independence. When you can do a whole ride of just climbing you soon become aware of your senses. Energy spent on anything but climbing is energy wasted.

I plodded on, past the laborious switchback section with only the sounds of my breathing and the occasional wind gust, car passing, or the sound of an animal in the brush. At this point on the road there are no houses except the ones in the distance atop mountains. This is also the point in the ride where you make the decision to keep going or to turn around. A few times I haven’t felt all the best and turned the bike around faster than a rock falling from the mountainside. This time I kept going. I saw no other riders until I hit the cross section in the road where you can continue to High Grade or climb up the other road for 15-20 minutes. This is where the sun hides on the other side of the mountain and the icy road conditions reappear. I took my time going down this section like a CAT5 in his or her first road race. Certain points of the descent I unclipped one of my cycle shoes just incase I lost control. Nearing the end of the icy section a couple in matching cycle kits passed me like two Pro-Tour riders in the Tour de France. I let them go but kept them in my sights. Once the road flattened out I put in a long hard effort and caught them about 2-3 miles out from the parking area. Once caught, I passed them only to find them both latched onto my rear wheel like leaches I could not get rid of. I surged and rode with a fierce undertaking to drop them. Now with a kilometer to the parking area I sat up and started to ride easy and free spin. This is when I noticed the husband trying to pass me on the left. I suppose in some respects this was his way of showing me up. I was watching him the whole time out of the corner of my eye and could sense he was coming around with a little too much effort and not enough control. In a split second he took one hand off the top of his handlebars to point out something on the road to his wife and lost complete control of his cycle. He skidded right coming close to knocking me off, then skidded left and fell right onto the pavement. I braked hard to circled round to see if he was alright. He was in pretty bad shape. The man hit the ground with a lot of force at 30+ mph. He couldn’t move the whole right side of his body and an ambulance needed to be called. By the time the police and ambulance arrived there we a few cars parked on the side of the road and around about 15-20 cyclists. Many were under the assumption he was hit by a car. This thought probably brought about the not so distance memory of a cyclist who was nailed by a hit-and-run driver in Vail, CO. While this man was not hit by a car and his crash resulted from his own error, it still gives you a cold chill down your spin on how dangerous riding a bicycle can actually be. After the man was taken into the ambulance I rode back to my car and tried to relax from a tough day on the bike.

High Grade Road

A view from the difficult switchback section 7,500 ft in the sky.

Future Endeavors

Other subjects for the New Year include getting my USA Cycling Coaching Certification so I can start to coach other riders. After past affairs with coaches and friends in terms of training regimens, ideals, and programs, I have realized how important communication between athlete and coach is. I believe my background in endurance sports (running 10 years, cycling 2 1/2) have given me the ability to understand ones body and what it takes to achieve goals. Whether your goals are recreational, competitive, intrinsic, or extrinsic, there are always ways to improve ones self. In the past year I have research and implemented different training routines into my riding to understand some of the basic fundamentals of competitive racing. This has been done by taking a uniformed approach to ones psychological mind, physiological body, personal goals, and my personal beliefs. Unfortunately I have seen a lot of popular coaches and coaching programs place too much emphasis on power and numbers and rather on race tactics and enjoyment. Racing on a bicycle is a continuous calculation of thoughts. Almost the same way a chess or poker game is played. Ones ability to interpret and feel out your competitors is just as important as the equipment you use on your cycle. I see a lot of lower category riders who worry too much about their FTP, Power, Lactic Threshold, Watts per Kg, and so forth. Sure, these scientific approaches are important but if you do not know when to hold em, fold em, walk away, or attack then all the analytical power data analyzation you do is useless. Coaches I have had in the past in both running and cycling have gotten me into the best shape of my life. No question about that. But the one missing ingredient I believe riders are missing from their coaches are the the basic race tactic fundamentals. Sure, practicality of racing ones bicycle in large quantities, will help you gain exposure and experience into the sport but at best it only helps one remain individually complacent. The best coaches are the ones who can get you in specific shape for races but with the notion of being able to study the specific race at hand and give vital race day guidance to success.  I believe I can and will do this for the athletes I coach in the coming years. I have also realized that getting to the next level in endurance sports is not solely based on your race results. Many coaches tend to think that with results the contracts will come. This is simply not true. In today’s society as a competitive endurance athlete you have to market yourself in a specific manner so your sponsors will support your future undertakings. Also, if you do not mesh well with your fellow teammates then you will have trouble gaining exposure for yourself, team, and most importantly – sponsors. I believe I can point athletes in the best direction based on their personalities  and specific race ambitions.

Happy New Year to my blog followers. I hope 2011 will bring success in various aspects of your life. Whether in sport, work, family, or relationships.

OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS!

>Santa’s got a brand new bike!

>

Just in time for the 2011 season is a brand new whip.

So without further adieu I present to you my fellow blog readers the bicycle that will be taking me though the 2011 season and beyond. 

Enjoy!

Specialized Tarmac SL3 PRO Frame

Full 2011 Campy Super Record 11 Speed Groupo

3T ARX LTD Stem

Easton Seat Post 

FSA Bars 

Garmin Edge 500

Fizik Aliante Carbon Saddle W/ Braided Rails

Look Keo Blade Pedals

FSA Full Carbon Cages 

>Let the Training Begin!

>OK.


So it’s not 2011 yet and I have my new bike built! WOOT! WOOT!


Training will start today for my first season out here in Colorado. Well, I’ll probably only do 30-60 minutes on the trainer to get a feel for the bicycle dimensions. Although it’s about 50 and sunny right now I want to play it safe with my bike fit and not ride until later tonight. I’ll be meeting with fit expert George Mullen later today to put the final touches on my fit. If you live in the Denver / Boulder area I would definitely suggest going to him for a fit. After attempting various exercises we were able to pinpoint my weakness on the bike. Yes I have weaknesses one the bike! I swear!


I’ll write more on the bike fit and bike build at a later date. For now lets just say I’m no longer feeling like a kid in a candy store. I have the sensation of a kid who has eaten all the candy in the store and is searching for seconds, thirds, and fourths.


Last Saturday I went on a nice hike with Frito and Mickey. I decided to leave Cooper behind this time. Cooper has been falling back on some of the hike/runs I’ve been doing. He has never been a fan of long runs so it was no surprise he needs that “extra” motivation to stay up with the pack. I also think his old age is starting to kick in. At times this would not even be a consideration. Especially in the backyard where he can out-sprint Mickey to get the Friz or tennis ball.

I went back to Deer Creek Canyon Park because it’s close and for the most part quiet with hiker traffic. In some respects there is more traffic in the mountains than on the highways! I started running right from the trailhead with my two compatriots. Mickey loves to take off right away and lead down the trail. For the most part it doesn’t bother me that he does this in the latter part of the run because there are not many people around. For the first couple of miles there are a lot of people hiking up and down with their dogs or alone. Most people do not seem to mind him being off leash but you can tell others are agitated. So, I have been training him to ride by my side until we are clear from hiker traffic and alone at the higher points of the park. The first part of the run is always the hardest for me. It’s where you gain the most altitude with the steepest climbs. I tend to go straight into oxygen debt after only a mile of running. Once around two miles into the trail my head begins to hurt and I feel dizzy. This tends to always happen at this park and I’m not sure why. Below 8,000ft you wouldn’t think it would not effect ones body too much but it definitely does. I suppose once over 8,500ft your body has to slow down because of the lower supply of oxygen so in return you slow down running and it doesn’t feel so difficult. (physically)

 I decided to take a different path this time to one of the “mountain” tops. It was called Homestead Trail. I was lucky to go this way because for the next half hour I didn’t see a single soul. It can be quite strange to be a sizable distance from other people. At times I would turn back to see if there was someone following us.


The dogs would even stop every once in a while and stare out into the open when they suspected an animal noise or rustling of some sort. This trail was not as steep as the others in the park but continued to ascend. Once near the top of the trail I looked to my right and noticed an overgrown trail with no trail markings. Sounds like a good adventure! The trail was insanely steep. Somewhere around a 20%+ gradient. Now even higher than before I noticed another small trail which lead to the actual peak of the mountain. You can tell not many people ventured this way because of the knocked down trees and  no noticeable trail signs. In any case, I made it to the top which gave me some beautiful vistas of downtown and other peaks in the area. Of course these are not like some 13 and 14’ers (peaks above 13 and 14,000ft) but they still give solace to ones mind about the vast beauty of the Colorado mountains. After sitting down with the pups for a while and taking in the views we headed back down to the parking lot and went home. All in all it was a nice day. All the pictures and video from the day’s adventure were taken on my new toy. It’s called the SONY Bloggie Touch HD. Pretty sweet little video camera that shoots in full 1080 HD for movies and has a 13 megapixel camera with 16GB’s of space. Enjoy!

>Winter Time Festivities

>Colorado is a great place during the winter month. Well, at least so far. The weather this past November and almost mid way in December has been quite mild. Most days are in the mid 40’s and 50’s and the occasional day in the 60’s. The temperatures out here also feel different. With tons of dry air at 5,800+ ft of elevation you are left warm feelings of the suns rays even on the coldest of days. The nights dip down low into the 20’s but by mid day you can walk around town in a light sweater or jacket and not feel too chilly. 


I have been off the bike for some time now. Almost a full month. My training will resume once my new whip (bicycle) is built. I’ll write a whole new post with pictures once the bike is good and ready to go. All in all I should be back riding by the middle of next week. I’ve been implementing a lot of core work during my time off the bike and it seems to be paying off. I’m noticing a small drop in overall body weight and fat. Well I’m sure not eating a row or two of cookies is helping also. Yes I have a major cookie obsession! I have also been lifting weights, mostly upper body once or twice a week. I’m not the biggest advocate for weight lifting. Especially during the racing season. But, since I need to keep myself busy until the new bicycle is built I don’t see the harm. I have also been doing some added cross training in the pool. The pool is fun because I can almost feel myself getting leaner as I swim. It’s a weird sensation. All of this cross training has brought up the idea of Xterra racing. It sure sounds fun and after watching Maija do her first Xterra race on Long Island  it got me even more interested in the idea. But, I still have some specific cycling goals that are keeping me from other endurance undertakings.  


Cross-training has been fun for the most part. Especially the hikes at Deer Creek Canyon Park. Usually on the weekends Maija, the three dogs and I will venture out to the trails at the park. The trails are a bit populated but once you make it out to 7,800ft and turn off the main trailhead you see less and less people. I’ve been doing some work for Sony on the weekends so our time hiking / running is limited in the morning. Still I have a deep appreciation for the mountains without spending much time on their peaks. Deer Creek Park specifically is only a 10 minute drive from the house. A few miles on the highway and you are in the foothills. 


Everything about Colorado gives me hope about one day having a house in the mountains. In some respects it is unrealistic to have a house deep in the mountains unless you telecommute. Or maybe you have a helicopter pick you up every morning and fly you to downtown. I remember when I would walk dogs back on the North Shore of Long Island. Most of the client’s had multi-million dollar homes. Every morning I would walk dogs and hear helicopters flying overhead. “Wow what a commute.” 


Hanukah has come and gone but not without Maija and I attempting to create our own Jewish jamboree! We bought a Menorah to light candles but had no luck finding any Hanukah candles that would fit! Every store I went to were either sold out, didn’t have them, or didn’t even know what they were! There has to be some Jewish people out here except myself, Aunt, Uncle, and cousins! In any case we put the Menorah on the kitchen table along with some sparkling peach grape juice and some Hanukah wrapping paper. 


This was our fist time celebrating Hanukah together and we ate in style with Matzoh Ball soup and Potato Latkes! They came out great! Well, I made the Matzoh balls a little too big and after eating only one Matzoh ball the dogs had their share on the leftovers. Still, it was nice to have a Jewish dinner with Maija. It brought back some great memories of eating Jewish dinners with the family. Speaking of family I’m excited to be flying home after the new year to see everyone. I’ll be able to aid in the training of Kramer (my parent’s new dog). 

The view heading to Frisco and up over the continental divide. 

Cell phone pictures are not always clear!