Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today was my first flat on my tubless MTB wheels. The Big Creek trails have gotten progessively rockier with baby-head rocks that really throw you around. One of them actually pierced the middle portion of my tire and even Stan's could not seal the pea-sized hole that was left behind. I also got thrown into a nice sticker bush while grinding through a rocky section. One rock flipped up from my front wheel and landed on the top of my foot/shin and kept bouncing between me and the frame for a couple of pedal strokes, sort of like juggling a soccer ball.

I remember the winter and Big Creek being really nice. Now the lack of rain and hard use has made it very challenging.

I am going to enter the 40+ expert race Sunday on my single-speed and try to use a 34x16 gearing. I also might try a Camel-bak hydration system since I have no one to give me a hand up. I don't really like them but it is going to be very hot and I'd rather look kind of silly than overheat. I hope the gearing is appropriate.

Only 5 weeks to the ss championships and my first peak. But, I am really excited about cross this year so it is hard to not overlook the SS champs.

School starts back again Monday so gone will be my free time and back to balancing everything. I am looking forward to school though since I always get to start fresh with a new batch of kids.

Someone was doing a photo shoot at Big Creek this morning with a bunch of kids. I wonder what that was for?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Going Tubless for CX With Stan's

First off, if you have the money just buy/use a tubular wheel set and tubular tires. It is the best option. Secondly, you can also but Stan's CX wheel set up which is a 29er MTB rim that is designed for tubless tires and Stan's system.

That said, the cheapest alternative to tubular tires is taking an old clincher wheel set and converting it over to tubless using Stan's cyclocross system. What follows is by no means the only way to do this but it worked for me.

1. Call Stan's and ask them if your wheel set will work with the system. I have a Sun ME14A wheel set that I won a few years ago and use as a back up set.
2. Take a drill with a 3/8" bit and drill out the inside valve hole. Sand it down to remove burrs.
3. One of the challenges for this and many other rims is that in order for it to seal the center of the rim has to be built up so that the Stan's rubber tire liner set up right under the clincher bead lock. What I did was take electrical tape and go around the center of the rim twice. Then I took TWO Velox rim strips and went around with those. Finally I took the Stan's rubber rim strip and installed it.
4. I went around the rim bead with a plastic tire lever and made sure the Stan's rubber rim strip was seated right up against the bead lock on both sides of the rim, all the way around.
5. I am using the Maxxis Raze tire to start with so I installed the tire and inflated it to 10 psi to make sure it held air.
6. I deflated the tire and hung the wheel from the post on my workstand (valve up). I then removed on side of the tire about 12" on the bottom, exposing the inside of the tire.
7. I shook the Stan's sealant and poured 2 Stan's cup fulls into the exposed part of the tire. I then rotated the tire around so that the sealant moved to an area where the tire was already set on both sides. Then I use my tire lever to install the tire I had exposed.
8. I inflated the tire to 50 psi and then meticulously grabbed the wheel in both hand and moved it back and forth (like a fan) revolving the tire so that the sealant was distributed.
9. I do not use soap to check the seal, I use Windex. I sprayed the Windex all around the tire/rim interface and looked for bubbles. If I saw some I placed the wheel with the bubbles at the bottom and then shook the wheel again to coat that area (Stan's website has some great video to show how this is done).
10. I then set up 2 buckets and rested each wheel sideways horizontal on a bucket for 5-10 minutes and after that inverted them.

All of this took about 2 hours. The wheels are holding fine and we will see what happens overnight. I am not using them as race wheels, only as back ups or training wheels. I am very interested to compare them to my tubular wheels.

I think this is the wave of the future but more so as UST/Tubless wheels are made more and more for cross just like MTB. I use a Bontrager tubless wheel set for MTB with Stan's sealant and have never looked back.

Tubulars are nice and feel nice but they are expensive. Stan's and tubless systems are made for the masses and I expect more and more people to give it a try.

Stan's has a nice cross wheel set for cheap and will be coming out with their own "raven" tire soon. Hutchison has a UST/tubless tire already for cross. Probably the biggest advantage to doing what I did is that you use wheels you have already and you can switch tires easily.

Friday, July 25, 2008

90 Realized

So I met my goal set way back in January of getting to a CTL of 90. Now what? Since CTL is based on a rolling average (basically like saying I am doing a 90 tss/day average), it will only fall from August 11th or so down to December. Simply put it takes a lot of time to raise your CTL. Like any average it gets harder to raise the ceiling as you go if you are not consistantly scoring above the average value.

Normally it is said that if you have a CTL of 70 or below you won't need to taper for a peak event. But at 90 tss/d or close to that I would taper if I were going to peak. The risk of tapering in September is that you loose CTL in your taper and for the cross season that might mean initial decreased performance. But, that is why you do specific workouts designed to maintain a certain level and focus on your weaknesses (for which I have many).

The last sub-eight hour week I had was back in April. The only "rest" period was during my vacation in June where I was still able to do some tempo stuff. So, using TSS instead of the traditional 3 weeks on/1 week off periodization got easier as I went. Plus, if you look at my average intensity factor for that period (May-July), it is only about .75 (out of 1, with 1 being TT intensity).

It is easy to see how the pros ramp up so quickly when they are doing 4 or 5 hours a day and racing in between.

A CTL of 100 tss/day would probably have taken me another 2 months. Once intervals start CTL will go down so I would have had to start building much earlier and since I work that is not possible.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Open Letter to All Things Hymenoptera

Dear Queen of the bees and wasps,

I surrender. I have had 6 stings in 6 weeks, three on the face while riding my bike. I don't know what I did to you but please stop stinging me! Is it the honey I eat in the morning? I can switch to maple syrup. Let me know (nicely).


Here is a 27 mile route from my house that has a few nice climbs and usually gives me 89 tss in 1.5 hours. Low traffic except for crossing Roswell Road and anyone who does the group rides in this area will be familiar with the roads. The best time to ride is between 9:30 and 11am when everyone is at work.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tubeless With Stan's

I am going to make an adventure of it and try the new Stan's cyclocross rim strips out on a spare Sun ME14A rim set in order to run them tubless. The setup looks pretty easy and the price is good as two Maxxis Raze tires are $60 and the Stan's setup is also $60. That is about the cost of one Dugast tubular tire.

I have had great success with the MTB setup and there are nice instructions on how to do the same for cyclocross tires here.

Most folks I know would love to go tubless but don't want to buy a new wheel set, special tires, or don't want the glue mess. I'll try it out and update later.

I can't wait for a cheaper road system for tubless and it should be forthcoming.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today on Dan's "Macabre" ride I got dropped again right after a big hill called Jack Pittman when Jeff Welp attacked. When he attacked I was in the shit already. So I tried to get back to them and only succeeded because they took pity on me and sat up. I guess it was my handlebar position which confused them to whether I was working hard to chase or not (I was on the hoods). There was a county line sign right after I caught them and I sprinted for it because I was glad it was over and because I was mad I got dropped.

Here is the power file selection that shows I was working at threshold chasing back and normalized power shows that I was a little above threshold (the dotted line is my threshold power line).

This ride is pretty hard for me (obviously) and harder now than it was back in February where I actually pulled a lot, did not get dropped, and sprinted 2 or 3 times.

Here is the zone by zone power distribution:

Friday, July 18, 2008

One of the best features of WKO+ is the "fast find" feature. In the ride graph you can search your effort for a self-specified power range. Besides the food poisoning last Saturday night I was surprised to get dropped on the Sunday ride. I was curious since I had done 5x5 VO2 max and 6x3 VO2 max efforts the Tuesday and Thursday before the ride, whether I had over extended in that range and was just very tired when those efforts came up in the fast ride.

What I found going back is that I had burned 13 matches of efforts between 30 to 2 minutes where the power average ranged between 318w and 450w.

Also, in looking at the power distribution graph I was 13 minutes total in VO2 max and 16 minutes above that.

While the ride might normally be in my wheelhouse, I would suspect that if I were to do a ride like this later in the week it might be better to adjust my intervals earlier so I can put in a better performance.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Drive for 90

I had a goal to try and achieve 90 CTL by August 4th. Why? I would like to come into the SS championships with a high CTL so I can taper a week and have a positive TSB for the race weekend September 6+7. I'll shoot for +20 TSB for that weekend and pay for it later in cross season. My original goal was to try and get 100 CTL but that won't happen.

It has been very difficult to get to 90 CTL being an average athlete. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of time. With cross season beginning at the end of October I am hoping I can salvage some CTL for that, focusing again on December.

Here is a shot of my PMC for the summer so far:

and a shot of my time/distance so far...

Using TSS has been a different experience and I can't say I have missed "rest weeks" but it is a gamble. It has been a neat experiment and those guys who do it all the time have my respect.

Yesterday I got completely dropped on the Dan's Macabre ride and it sucked. I don't think I have gotten dropped on that ride before. It especially hurt getting crushed on the hill before Stock Rd. Hopefully the chart above had nothing to do with that. Maybe things will be different this weekend.

I liked the sequel to Hellboy a lot. I collected comics when I was a teen and I would certainly have subscribed to Hellboy back then. But with the web today you can see some of them online here. The movie is different from the comic but it is really fun and humerous. Even my wife liked it without me having to pay dues and see Sex in the City (never).

I would suggest avoiding any mussel dish at mexican style taquerias in Virginia/Highlands.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My wife told me 2 weeks ago that she thinks I should race cross this fall if I want to and to not say I am going to stop unless I really want to. Probably the biggest inhibitor to racing some races will be gas prices. Without knowing the schedule yet I don't know how many races might be affected. But, I assume that when my daughter turns 4 next year she will be playing sports of her own and I will be focusing more on that (car-pool, practices, etc.).

Anyway, no one cares really except me so moving on...

I am going to try and do one of my "dream races" this fall. The HUP guys in New England are going to host a get together for the USGP of Gloucester and I have booked my flight. It was a hard choice between that and Star-Crossed in Seattle but New England won out.

This year's cross season will be interesting in a lot of ways. First, the GA SS championships are right in the middle of the prime cross build-up month of September. So, how do you work both? I think you prepare for cross but try and do a weekly SS ride/race to keep sharp. I doubt that muscular endurance will drop too much unless one focuses only on cross in that time period.
Secondly, with the excellence of Brendan Sullivan this year it will be interesting to see where he races. If he goes A race, it leaves the door open for a few masters 35+ guys. Maybe that would encourage Tony to go with him. One can dream. I have the same dilemma as always: masters is first, A race is last, tennis happens during the A race so I will have to do the masters, get in my car and race home so my wife can play tennis. It is a balancing act.

I will probably go all-in and race elite masters 1/2/3 in Gloucester. Of course, that is if I can even register. Registration is as competitive as nationals and starts smack in the middle of the SS champs race day. Doh!

Sometimes I get the feeling that cross is like Dungeons and Dragons. It is a little obsession that means very little to anyone but your little circle and anyone else looking in realizes that you take it way too seriously. What would be the equivalent of a dice pouch in cross? (Yes I played, cast your judgement).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The yearly pilgrimage to Athens to ride the Finley Street cobbles went off without any problems. It was about 3.5 hours in the saddle and 65 miles of nice roads. Once in Athens, we rode down Milledge and took a left onto Broad and then a right up Finley's steep cobbled climb (really the only one I know of around here). It is not very long but as you can see in the picture to the left, there are some pretty nice looking stones. Thinking back to walking that street when I was a student at UGA I would have not realized the appeal until Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

The group eventually broke up around Tallassee Rd and riding from there to Statham, over the reservoir was pretty tough.

All in all a really nice time and I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I can't believe how cool it is outside, but I can believe how little it has rained. The 3rd driest June on record and we are down 7" at this point.

I am looking forward to the GTC Athens ride Friday and no matter what Mike says I have 74 and 81 miles in the last 2 editions I did, not 62 miles. That is fine with me! I proposed twice up the cobbled Finley St. so we will see who bites. It is a great ride all around and I hope the weather is nice.