Saturday, January 31, 2009

MTB Fun at B.A.

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The winter is always a fun time for new projects, new and old. Today I took a ride in my past-cycling and starting putting together my race mountain bike for the 2009 OMBC, Groovy, and NEO series. I originally wanted Sean to check my angles on the bike (mini-fit) but in the end, I started swapping some parts like usual, for weight.

I added new GX1 Ergon grips to my arsenal to subract 46 grams there. Then take away another 30 grams for the end caps. Then I removed the bar ends to add more room for my single speed swinging. Subtract another 117 grams for that.

So a seat high raise of 3.5 inches, and subtract 193 grams from the handlebars and I'm also ready to race-weight. We also pulled of the front and rear deraiullers, and shifter but left the cogs on. Total, my bike topped out at 21.69 lbs. A nearly 2lb drop from last year without too much money spent. Now that's exciting.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The First Test

This really gave me something to think about. A 3-mile computrainer session was in store for me at Bike Authority but did I ever imagine it being that hard? To say the least, I had a very rough time, but a good overall state.

This was my first real test of the new year for coach (back round) to see where I was. My personal positives and negatives really shined in this race. I was fresh off of my first high powered effort on Wednesday to warm up the legs. Then managed to warmup for forty minutes on the trainer at the shop with six 30 second hard spinups. Also a few one legs thrown in. This lead to my death ride of a desperately slow 9 minutes and forty-five seconds.

To say the least, it was downhill start where my heart rate was not even peaking at 180. Mike V. said the course went up to a 7% downhill but it felt like 50%. I was averaging near 30mph spinning in my monstrous 45-12 (max junior gear) which was a total disadvantage. Anyway, I didn't totally capitalize on the downhill but to my max gear I think I did alright. Either way, you know when you averaging 30mph going down and you averaged around 18.5mph, you guessed it, the uphill sucked!

It was a four-minute plus climb which for a. I never do four minute climbs and b. I haven't been training at any decent pace. Those reasons definitely didn't work to my advantage Thursday. My heart rate was great though pegged at about 192 where I should be but not for a 3 mile tt. The false flat at the end is the only part that I coincided with my time. But, I managed to tough it out and get a decent 9m 45s time at around 18.5mph.

I wasn't too disappointed with this knowing their was no weight calibrations (add more mph) and I was on the trainer and out of shape (add a lot more mph). But I do know now where I stand in training and need to start getting to it. I also don't have much endurance either but that's what the coach is for!

I plan on making maybe one or two more before March when I plan to hit up all of them (unless its eight degrees out, nothing less) in my training for Presque Isle. I've also decided not to race until Presque Isle April 26th so I'll have more of an itch to race. And that fitness thing. Better work on my TT bike (I'm bragging)! Come out to the TT to get into shape!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cure for the Itch

The itch that bugs the cyclist during the winter. That cringe and desire to race, all in one song. Tomorow my itch will be cured at the Bike Authority Indoor TT #2. 3 mile test of pain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Season planning is a stressful project. Time, money, thinking, computers, and more thinking and deciding. Then of course that requires new clothing, and bikes and accessories. But that's what make the sport and it's economy spin.

This season I have planned to race around a volume of 30-40 barring injury or other issues. My first race should be a 12.9 mile TT in Erie, PA at the end of April. We call this Presque Isle. There I shall debut my new TT rig. After that the focus quickly turns to crits, 3 definites and any others that seem attractive. Then I will slide over to single-speed mountain bike and aim towards time trials. These all lead up to my main form of 2-wheelin, cyclocross.

So, three different sports directed to another, mtb for skill, tt for power, and crits for accelerations. Looking at specific races, I'm looking at Race at the Lakes and Mill Creek for crits. OMBC, NEO Power, and Lake-to-Lake for MTB. Then Presque Isles, States, Lake Effect TTs, and training at Leroys. Thats what I call periodization.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The "Get me outta this basement" Weekend

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
The weekend had a great start because I was off-school Friday and it was a thrilling forty-degrees outside. We had been planning some basic core workouts but because of the weather we met up with Shawn, Cameron J., and Sam House for a longer group ride. With the exception of Cam flatting and having no tubes, pump, co2, or cell phone, it was just a regular old group ride.

I could tell on the flats I was feeling good but once the road went up I could tell I haven't ridden in a while outdoors because, let's just say we needed to re-group on a slow ride. That was the only disappointing part but all in a great ride. Ended up with just shy of 30 miles and 2+ hours of endurance riding.

Then Saturday I went to the local Chapin X-C Ski Race to watch my dad and Ray race. Dad ended up 4th overall in the 5k and 8th overall in the 10k. He was first in the 5k for his older age category and 2nd in the 10k. Ray was second in his age group, too. The conditions were really icy and wax was key. Kind of reminds me of cyclocross tires.

Next up Sunday was our first trip to Ray's Indoor MTB Park! It's been a long time but my skills were surprisingly sharp, thanks cyclocross. Dad and I completed quite a few of the adjusted XC loop before trying the beginner and sport stuff. Eventually we got to ride with the women's pro's who competed in a race at Rays the previous day. They were drilling stuff with there clipless pedals, too.

A great weekend of training and now I look forward to a big week next. Many things to get organized i.e. team meetings, bike fits, bike builds, TT stuff, and that training thing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

TT Frame

BB and Tony guessed right. Jared Woodford hooked me up with his used Cannondale Six13 Slice TT Bike. Super slick and he left some C'dale SI cranks on, nice! Jared recently upgraded to a new Slice and once completed he practically donated me a time trial frame. The frame is a fifty-four, but figuring I'm comfy on a fifty-two now, a fifty-four won't be such a big jump. Now the big challenge is building it up with only used parts. I'm going to try to use mostly used stuff from the shop to start but just wait til next winter, I'll have it lightened up in no time.

The bike took Jared to multiple tri and du victories including the trifecta in 2007, winning Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati triathlons. He also went to the Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Switzerland on one nice tt frame. Hopefully I can pull out some results with this frame, just don't expect me to do a triathlon anytime soon.

We originally toyed with the idea of making this a road bike but I decided I'll be focusing on more time trials and less road races, but more crits. I enjoy using my cyclocross bikes for crits because of the stiffness and handling, but also to get used to the position and the high bottom bracket. The advantage of pedaling through turns is awesome. This bike will be my new trainer bike for higher intensity stuff and getting used to the position.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

HUGE Announcement JAN. 23!

It's more like an unrevealing rather than a HUGE announcement, but you're reading this aren't you? Here is a slight teaser.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pimp My Ride

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Here is the latest road setup on my Cannondale Optimo1 Bike. I've got the lastest Sram Rival with carbon levers and a much lighter rear derailleur. Those are custom white hoods with white carbon spacers on the new 3T 90mm stem. A mere 118g's for the stem. I put on the heavy duty bottle cages so that added some weight but without pedals and handlebar tape, we're currently at 17.9 lbs. This is with the new Sram Red Crank with a double chainring.

So far my ever destined sub-18lb cross bike, subtract 120 grams for bottle cages. Gain nothing with tubular cross wheels. Gain about 3/4 of a pound for pedals. Cut off 30g for gutting left Rival lever and cables. Pull off front derailleur and one chainring for another 160g lost. Add 84g for 2 chainring guards. Lose 20g for no third eye.

Then the IF's. Cut off nearly 50g if I get new carbon brakes, TRP CR950 or EuroX. If my new Fiz'ik saddle comes in, I bet that's a few more grams lighter than the older version I have now. Assuming my pedals are 410g (Time MTB, some kind), I would only gain around 110 grams total not counting handlebar tape. That is equal to .22 lbs. It's gonna be close.

I should probably be more worried about riding other than how cool and light my bike looks but.. that floats my boat. It's extra that helps me do better and I love thinking about it. Only a few more grams and I'll get to my goal.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Thinking Cross

Cross training, that is. Sunday morning we headed up to a crowded Chapin Forest for some more X-C skiing. I'm slowly but surely learning how to skate ski. And let me tell you, it is a difficult and frustrating process. I fell about ten times less this week than the previous. It seems like a very fun sport when your good at it though, so I think it will pay off.

Then this Monday morning, my dad I went on a towpath run down in the valley. We ended up at 2.5 miles at a nice and easy pace. We finished in the deep snow with about 25 more minutes of running under my belt. Being a beginning runner it's very difficult to go "easy" without walking, but I'm working on it.

Last year I denied cross training and rode the trainer religiously, over 5 times a week. Now I've cut down on trainer time but improved my running, skiing, and core with about the same amount of hours.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A nice day for an Indoor Velodrome..

Originally uploaded by inquintessence
I should have changed the title to a nice month for an indoor velodrome. Somehow the trainer is even more mind-numbing when my average ride is 31 minutes. The good news if you would call it that is my house is so cold (a mere fifty-eight degrees) I didn't need to waste the energy of setting up my box fan today.

Looking ahead to next weekend is the Tri-Flow Indoor XC Challenge at Ray's Indoor MTB Park. Amateurs are welcome to race but a max limit if 50. Only $30 for 10 minute-sufferfest and a weekend pass. Looks like we'll finally hit up Rays for a weekend. No school Friday so I might get out for three days.

Other than that, not much new. We are currently in the process of ordering new jerseys. I'm getting a long-sleeve skinsuit and two bib-shorts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A slight bit cold...

Originally uploaded by Robert Sroka
Anything under the temperature of around 20*F I can complain about without getting too many who disagree. Then when not one person agrees to go outside, you know its cold. This was the first time I was concerned weather our thermometer would go into negatives, let alone, double digit negatives throughout the night. To add to the embarrassment, the sun is shining so bright and the temperature has raised a mere 6 degrees to an astounding -3.5*F. I can't remember it ever being this cold ever.

To add to the indoor list, I plan on getting my race-mtb dart-fished at Bike Authority since I haven't ridden for a while. Before I talked about converting my mountain bike into a single ring, well now I have went all the way. I want to go single-speed for racing.

There are very few advantages or disadvantages but I just want to get a good workout while improving my skills at the races so I ask myself, why not? All I will need is a singulator and a few spacers. This will shave a few more pounds off the bike but it isn't why I'm doing it. I think it will be fun. Hopefully.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Newbies are Slow...

The weather at least decided what it was going to do this week. For the previous month it was on-off rain, snow, sleet, sun, and whatever else. Now that we (I speak for Cleveland and north) know we can't ride outside, that takes a little stress off. That means we need to find other activities inside, or out, that fulfill our training schedule.

This weekend I did two new things starting with roller rides with single leg pedals and once with the fixie. The first time back with the one leg strokes, I completed a minimal 6 x 30s with each leg. That ride I did on the fixie and really enjoyed it, slow constant speed forming a flawless stroke, hopefully.

The second new non-ride-outside sport I tried was X-C skiing. This was my second ever time skiing, but I was forced into skate skiing. The beginning stages were fun, easily falling, but the middle I hated, way too much falling. After a short break, I headed back out and finally started to figure out the striding. So much balance and coordination. But, would very much enjoy getting better at.

Besides a few core workouts, the weeks have been really easy in everything which is awesome. My rowing has improved greatly and so has my running. This week I'd like to run 3 more times, Wednesday as my workout, and Saturday + Sunday for my bonus.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vacation is Over

Originally uploaded by Huang Family
Everyone says you need it and I don't believe it. The CORE is I guess the most important non-secret training there is now. Hence the bold and italicized word. So this week started my scheduled training and you guessed it, core. My coach created a fitness program through personal training on the net that includes 9 exercises towards a stronger core. This wasn't my first time attempting core work, but it felt like a long time since my last try. Result: I'm the sorest I've ever been. Not any TT or Cyclocross effort has put me in the sore-bag this much.

Other than those workouts, I've still been keeping up my X-training regimen of rowing, running on the treadmill, weights, no etc. I've seen and felt results right away from rowing and can now easily sustain 10 minutes of an easy pace at 42s/m and hold a 43 watt average. Running has also improved greatly over the past month as I ran an easy sub-23minute 5k on the treadmill. Sadly, the treadmill is twice as fast as real running. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but I do believe if I can run a good clip on the treadmill at an easy pace, I should be able to do that at a hard pace on the road. Right? Triathletes help me out on that one.

Other than that, not much has been up. Mucho indoor training with this much snow is ok for now but come late February, I'll be itching to ride consistently outside again this year. That reminds me of another benefit from cyclocross is too that it excels you to ride outside during cross season, especially knowing you have a race this weekend. In fact, looking through training, I didn't ride inside this year once for cold weather until after the State Championships on November 23rd. And that was because I was sick! If only american cross went through February...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Weekend Training: Marut Style

This weekend I caught up with the Marut's for a long ride and long run. Friday we hit up the first of many nursery roads of the weekend and ended up running over 30 minutes. I felt pretty good for going my first time over 20 minutes. All of my runs outdoors so far have included trails, so that's good too. Then Saturday after a fun night, we went to the infamous Outdoor YMCA out east for some slippery cross fun, and a few hike-a-bikes. After that Tony, Bill, and I went down some nursery roads and flat roads for just over two hours. A great endurance weekend for me, and look forward to doing it again.