Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spring is Around the Corner?

With only six weeks of winter left it still feels like it will never get here. The 16 inches of snow that fell/blew this weeks only reinforces that feeling. I have ridden more miles outside this off season then any other still I yearn for a ride that I can sweat from a hard effort on a warm day instead of from being over dressed. Or to feel the wind cool me on a 40 mph decent instead of freezing me to the core. Getting motivated to spend 30 minutes getting dressed, 20 minutes getting undressed and several hours getting warmed back up gets harder each ride. Now that I am done complaining I will switch to some brighter subjects.

The last two days the sun has shined while I was riding. Last week the weather man said we had 50 out of lasts 60 days that were cloudy or mostly cloudy. It was really nice to look back and see my shadow following you as I passed huge piles of snow on the local gravel roads. Just having the warm sunshine while riding always makes the ride more enjoyable.

I am fortunate to live outside of town so I don’t have to deal with the slushy city streets every time I venture out to ride. My housing addition has been a little messy but that is only half a mile from the highway that has a clear dry paved shoulder for riding. From there I have many gravel roads and county paved roads to choose from. The county has done a great job keeping these clear after the big storm. For the most part the snow has melted and the roads are just a bed of frozen gravel. That makes for fast riding conditions.

Since the housing additions has been snow packed most of the year the cyclo-cross bike has been the ride of choice. Of the 17 outdoor rides this year only three have been on my road bike. Outdoor miles have ranged from 97 to 12 with most falling in the 30-35 mile range. Two to three hours of riding in the below freezing temperatures is all I care to ride. Besides the normal water bottles spouts are usually frozen enough that you can’t drink from them after an hour. During the summer I don’t like to use the insulated bottles because they don’t hold as much water and are too hard to squeeze. During below freezing rides filling them with hot water is the best way to ensure you have something to drink longer then an hour. With temperatures in the upper 20’s it takes about two hours for an insulated bottle to freeze beyond use.

Since the first big event of the year will be the Trans Iowa(TI) on my cyclo-cross bike getting big miles on that bike has been a training objective. Eleven weeks from today (Easter Weekend) I hope to be sitting here writing my story about what an awesome adventure TI was and how I can’t wait for next year. In a few weeks I will ramp up the intensity of my rides by adding some hill repeats and increasing my weekly long rides. If you have ridden many gravel roads you know they tend to be a little hillier. The big hills are also steeper and add in some gravel for poor traction and the going gets pretty tough.


This is the Mapmyride route for one of my planned training routes. Both big climbs are on gravel and the second one, at the 12 mile mark, is very tough. I have ridden it four times. Twice I had to walk. One of those times was in the snow and they had not plowed it. Between the 14 and 16 mile mark are a series of rolling hills. On one of the hills I managed a max speed of 36 on the cyclo-cross bike. That is a little scary on gravel.

Another training route will be the hills up the bluff off highway 22 east of Muscatine. In a 10 miles stretch of highway 22 if you go north there are four paved climbs and three gravel climbs. It will be interesting to wear Connie’s GPS on that route and see what percent grades they are.

For the next couple weeks, prior to increasing the intensity, the plan is to increase the miles each week with the focus being the long rides on the weekends. Hopefully the temperatures will start to increase and there will be some group rides to add a little more fun to the rides and get me motivated.

Total miles Year to date: 992

Mileage goal Year to date: 944

Outdoor miles: 610

Indoor miles 382

Weekly average: 193

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