Category Archives: Comments about Cycling

Landrun 100 is Today

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There is a 100 mile “gravel race” down in Stillwater Oklahoma today.  It is called the Landrun 100.  I’ve never done the race.  I’m not sure I’ll ever do the race.  3 out of the last 4 years, it has rained close to the race day and the course has turned into a mandatory walk for miles.  Miles in red dirt that is sticky.

I know a ton of people that are racing today.  I’m hoping for the best.  I heard that the course was switched up some and that it hasn’t rained there for a long time, so even if the predicted rain comes today, it should be able to hold up better than previously.  I’ll cross my fingers for that.

I actually just checked the weather out and it is raining there currently, with the temperatures in the 30’s.  Man, what bad luck.  It is so hard to stay warm when it is in the 30’s and you are wet. Wet and muddy is a hard thing to persevere through.   Best of luck to everyone.

Tucker got neutered a couple days ago.  He was a very unhappy camper for a day.  I think it was more from anesthesia than from the procedure.   He woke up the next morning feeling much, much better.  He can run off leash for a couple more days and has so much energy now.  He is going a bit stir crazy.

I found a pipe wrench a couple days ago riding.  It was too heavy to carry, so I threw it into deep grass by a highway sign and drove out there yesterday and picked it up.  It had a bunch of surface rust, but my brother Kris, cleaned it up and it should be fine.  It is an 18″ Trimont pipe wrench.  It is an antique, which means that it is a nice tool.  I’ll make good use of it.

It is supposed to start snowing here in an hour or so.  It is in the 30’s, so 30 degrees colder than a couple days ago.  The training race today has been cancelled.  Hopefully the Perry race will be fine tomorrow.  It is only supposed to snow 1 inch and it is supposed to be 50 degrees tomorrow, so it should be fine.

Alright, guess I need to get some inside stuff done today.  I’ve ridden nearly 400 miles this week already, so if I ride to the race and back, plus racing, it should be enough miles, so I don’t need to worry too much about getting out today.

Landrun 100 start this morning.

This is Jason Irwin last year. He went out to finish 12th overall, 2nd singlespeed. This is 40 miles in.

This is when it gets really ugly.  Here is a link to more photos.

Tucker was getting a lot of attention from Wink.

Pipe wrench.

Pipe wrench cleaned up.

Power vs Fitness

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Yesterday I did the first 100 mile ride of the year.  Well, really the first since I cracked my head back last October.  I’ve been riding a little more the last couple weeks and feel just okay riding.  Yesterday, I felt pretty strong, for 3-5 hours, but don’t have any top end, which is to be expected.

Anyway, I was looking at the power curve on Strava.  It compared the current ride you did to all the previous rides.  Strava compares the ride yesterday to all of 2017, then I compared it to 2016 and ’15.  I was riding alright and the wattage was higher because it was pretty windy, which always adds wattage.

I had the highest numbers of all of 2017 most of the day.  But I wasn’t really that bad compared to the best numbers of 2016 or 2015.  I was only 10% off those number most of the time, which didn’t seem right.

The power curve of those years is the best number I had on any ride throughout the year.  So I was comparing one ride with the best power I did in all of one year, second by second, minute by minute.  Nearly all those numbers are in races, for sure.  I haven’t raced in months upon months.

I guess my power is good.  I went hard yesterday, towards the end of the ride for maybe two miles or so.  I felt pretty great, considering I’d ridden 90 something miles already and it was still windy.

I rode most of the day in the wind.  There were only three of us, Bill, my brother and me.  I sat on for a few miles listening to the end of a disastrous KU game.   But other than that, I was mostly pulling.

I noticed, while I was riding, that my heartrate was pretty low, even for me.  I only averaged 104 bpm for the whole ride, with an average of 225 watts.  I wonder why the wattage is always lower on Strava than on my Garmin, when I finish.   I calibrated the power meter before the ride and sometimes again if we stop.

I guess my power is alright.  I’m thinking about racing on Sunday at Perry.  It is a 35 mile road race on a 5 mile circuit.  It has a pretty good climb each lap and is always windy. Probably a better start than a criterium.

If I race, I’ll be interested in the numbers.  I can’t imagine I have any race fitness.  At least compared to some of the guys around here.  If Joseph, Connor, or Alex, from the Elevate team show up, they’ve already been racing for over a month, doing incredible well.  Connor won Chico stage race and Alex was raging there too, so they are already in form.   I like it when better riders show up at training races.  Makes them that more interesting.

The whole ride.

Power compared to all of 2017.

Power compared to 2016.

Power compared to 2015.

Last two weeks.

Caffeine potentially on WADA’s List of Prohibited Substances

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I saw a Washington Post’s article this morning that said that caffeine is on a list at WADA that lists it as a on  a “waiting list of prohibited substances”.

The article says-

WADA added caffeine to its Monitoring Program for 2017 so experts could study whether athletes are using the substance “with the intent of enhancing performance.”

WADA’s study will continue through September, at which point the agency will issue a three-month notice that the substance will be added to the Prohibited List the following year. To be added to the prohibited list, the substance must meet two or three criteria: 1) It has the potential to enhance performance; 2) It poses a health risk to athletes; and/or 3) It violates “the spirit of sport.”

Caffeine, ie coffee or caffeine sodas, was banned for use in competition before 2003.  But there was a threshold, so you could drink coffee, but not just 5 double espresso before the start of a race.

I guess they are going to do a study to see how much caffeine an athlete can ingest to add in athletic performance.  I hope they aren’t going to be super strict, because from personal experience, just a small amount of caffeine aids in lots of different things, but for sure, athletic performance.

I assume that they are going to set thresholds once again.  The thresholds were pretty high before, so maybe they need to lower them a bit.  I’m sure there are guys out there consuming a ton of caffeine in athletic competition, so I, hesitantly, have to agree a ban needs to be enacted.

Pretty Bad Air, Even though it’s been Windy

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There have been some pretty strong winds the last couple weeks.  I look forward to that because if the wind is going to be blowing over 15 mph, then there are burning bans.  By that I mean that farmers/ranchers and such can’t lite their grass on fire and let it burn.

I hate this.  I understand all the issues involved, but no one seems to be in charge of the whole process.  I’ve been riding back and forth to Lawrence on gravel, the last week, and all the burning along this road is people burning ditches and other grass that has nothing to do with cattle.

Burning permits shouldn’t be issued for ditches.  That is just laziness, plus most of the time, no one goes through the ditches first, so many plastic bottles burn too, which is really bad air.

Yesterday, in Kansas, a semi truck driver from Oklahoma, a 39 year old man, died of smoke inhalation when he drove into a fire, stopped, got stuck and tried to turn around.  This was on pavement.  It is so sad.  Obviously, there should have been something in place to change this outcome.

Since our new “president” has proposed big budget cuts for the EPA, this is probably only going to get worse.  I was thinking about it yesterday, as I was riding.

Nearly every stream and pond I ride by is full of algae.  This is from fertilizers and livestock waste.  These creeks run into the Kansas River, where all the cities along it gets their water.  This includes both Topeka and Lawrence.

I don’t get the whole plan.  I assume that both republicans and democrats alike, want clean water and air.  For themselves and their children.   We obviously need someone to ride shotgun over us to attain this.  People, left to their own, will not take personal responsibility for this.  So why cut the funds to manage these things.  So stupid, as Mr. Trump might tweet.

Anyway, it is going to be 70 again today.  And windy.  The burning ban, Red Alert Day, is only from 11am to 6 pm. so it is going to be a little smokey.  Like I said above, no one seems to be regulating it.

Burning the grass for cattle.

Then it gets smokey.

Burn map from a couple days ago.

Burn map when it is less windy. This is when it really sucks.

Strade Bianche 2017

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I love the race Strade Bianche.  I like it for many reasons, but many is because it seems like the guys have to race the last couple hours.  Or at least the last hour, for sure.  I think it is so funny when the finishers call the race “old school”, which means it isn’t being controlled and is just a normal bike race.  Guys doing their own moves and racing mono a mono.

This year, the fireworks started pretty far out and the racing was hard.  Michal Kwiatkowski made a good move and had a little help from the camera motorcycles the last bit. But, that is how it goes, I guess.

Anyway, if you didn’t have a chance to see it, there are two videos below.  Short or long, you chose.

 

Mileage / Cat 5 Racing MTB Now / Amanda Coker

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I’ve been riding a fair amount the last week.  Nothing crazy, but pretty hard considering the wind has never been blowing much less than 20 mph.  It has been pretty usually warm the past couple weeks, in the 60’s, but when that is the case this time of the year, it is nearly always super windy.

I rode 440 miles last week.  I did a 90 mile ride and sort of fell apart around 50.  But I just kept training and yesterday did 80 miles and felt fine. That is with a lot of wind, once again.  I have no idea what my body does to compensate for those extremes?  It is so weird.

I got a racing license last friday.   I was considering racing on Saturday, but thought better of it after riding over to the race.  The Spring Fling course is pretty safe, but the wind was crazy and I do realize that I need to stay vertical on a bicycle for the near future.

I don’t quite understand the licensing deal from USAC nowadays.  It cost me $255 for an international license.  Something about extra for a t-shirt and insurance at gravel races/gravel fondos.  Then there is a $25 fee for extra drug testing, the Race Clean program.  I guess I don’t mind paying for either of those things.  Both seem like a good use of funds.

I was just looking at my license and I’m a Cat 5 for MTB cross country racing.  Actually, I’m a Cat 5 in all aspects of MTB racing, except observed trials, where I’m a 3.  Not sure what happened there.  I maybe didn’t race enough sanctioned MTB races, so got downgraded to 5?

I had been only riding around 250-300 miles a week, but felt I needed to get some endurance.  A 440 mile week in Kansas, with this wind, is like a 550 mile week in California.   I try to ride as much sidewind as possible, since riding straight into the headwind is way too hard.

I was looking at Strava and they are doing a March Distance Challenge.  I noticed this because Amanda Coker had signed up for it.  She is the woman setting the ultra endurance record down in Florida.  She has been riding daily, what I had done the previous 3 weeks.  She has upped her mileage to around 250 miles a day now.  Guess she only has 10 weeks or so to go, so she is going longer at the end.  And faster.  The numbers are mind blowing.

I don’t understand it at all.  Not any of it.  Her time riding, her speed riding, how she can consume enough calories for the effort, none of it.  She finished week 42 last Saturday and rode 253.3 miles that day.  I’ve never come close to riding that far my whole life.   And she does it for nearly 42 weeks straight, everyday, pretty much.

She is winning the Strava March Challenge, having ridden 2024 km. in 5 days.  She is 753 km ahead of 2nd place.  This is out of 112,585 people signed up.  I am in 429th place, not that I’m keeping track.

I don’t understand why she isn’t getting more press from cycling publications.  RAAM gets way more press than this and what she is doing is way, way more impressive.  On so many levels.  I can ride a bicycle alright and there is absolutely no way I could do what she has already done.  It is amazing.

Okay, it is windy again here in Kansas.  Gusts today over 40 I heard on the radio.  The upside to this crazy wind is they can’t burn the grass, so the air is cleaner.  A little I guess.  It is supposed to get to 76 this afternoon, but thunderstorms then.   Guess I should get out early?

We came in on gravel yesterday to try to get some shelter from the wind.

This is John-Jack. We stopped for coffee in Lawrence and he decided to refuel.

Amanda Coker rides more a day than I did in 3 separate weeks.

My license.

After 3 days of the Strava March Challenge, I was tied with Tony Rominger.

I saw that Amanda has a GoFundMe page to help with her expenses. She has raised a little over $5,000. I figure she is going to go through 56 tires, if she gets 3000 miles per tire. She could probably use some assistance. Here is a link to her GoFundMe page.

 

 

Rolling Stop Signs

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve rolled a ton of stop signs.  When I first started riding, it wasn’t even an issue.   People that drove cars didn’t blink an eye if a cyclist rolled a stop sign.  It was to be expected.  But, that was a long, long time ago.

Somewhere, through the time, drivers started getting up in arms about cyclists.   It isn’t only rolling stop signs, but nearly everything, just riding.  I wonder why that happened?  More cyclists, or people having less time?  Whatever the reason, even if you are the most responsible cyclist, concerning laws, you will feel the wrath of drivers occasionally.

Cycling laws interest me.  Each state and their perceptions of what is important enough to restrict cyclists from doing.

Here in Kansas, we have a two-abreast law, which makes it legal to ride side by side.  Plus we have the 3 foot passing rule.  These two laws make it nearly impossible to pass a couple cyclists without crossing the centerline, which is how it should be.   Nearly the only way to pass a cyclist when there is oncoming traffic is for the car to cross over the centerline.  The 3 foot law makes that pretty much mandatory.

We, in Kansas have a Dead Red Law too. which allows bicyclists, and motorcycles, to legally proceed through red lights in Kansas when it is safe to do so.   It is a good law for cyclists.

I saw an article that in California, a couple politicians introduced a bill that would allow cyclist to roll stop signs.  Treat them as yield signs.   This would make a huge difference riding nearly anywhere in the state.  When I’m riding in Southern California, you could go through 100’s of stop signs on any given ride.  I think the state of Idaho has this law already.

Plus, like the creators of the legislation understand, it is safer for the bicyclist.  We all know how to get across an intersection after stopping, but you have to think of a person that hardly ever rides that has trouble locating their pedals while starting, thus looking down and not paying enough attention to the cross traffic.   Going slowly across a busy street isn’t the wisest way to cross that street.

I have no idea whether this will become law.  I’d bet not, but what do I know?  I’m way more interested in alleviating the animosity between cyclists and drivers.  I don’t really get why it even exists.  You’d think that a driver would think it is great that someone is out riding a bike.  For commuting, recreation, or actually training.   People are fickle.

Think all the money they would save putting up special signs for bicyclists.