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Thursday, March 25, 2010

RoadID Giveaway

Run on over to KC's blog (140 Point 6 Miles). She's running a contest to win a RoadID bracelet. I've been meaning to order one so figured I'd enter the contest. If I don't win one I'll surely order one...and when I get it I'll post about it here!

Road ID gathered its group of brand ambassadors (Levi Leipheimer, Bob Roll, Dean Karnazes, Craig Alexander, Liz Hatch and Scott Nydam) to talk about their individual sports, the inherent dangers of each, and the roll that Road ID plays in being safe.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Speedplay Pedals

I may have only mentioned it a couple of times if at all here on the blog, but I'm a huge fan of Speedplay pedals. I credit them with saving my knees and allowing me to continue to ride big miles (relative I know, but at least for me).

Bike Noob recently posted a nice piece on Speedplays (Speedplay Pedals - Are They For You) in response to friendly recommendations he received when he was dealing with severe knee pain. Given my view on Speedplay pedals, I left a lengthy comment on his post as a result of reading through the comments and seeing what I thought were a few misconceptions floating around concerning these pedals. I am going to re-post my comments here.

I’ve weighed in before on Speedplay pedals but have no interest in converting others to switch…if you like the pedals you have I’d say stick with them. That being said, Speedplays work for me and I have what I like to call the perfect storm of bad knee conditions: ITB friction syndrome (proper stretching is the key to helping with this one), damage from previously misaligned cleats, a touch of arthritis, and mild chondromalacia (severe if I don’t get my base miles in on the small chainring). I was at my wits end about 10 years ago when the chronic pain became impossible to manage and the only solution outside of possible surgery was to stop riding. Enter Speedplays and result – my knee problems are mostly history. Sure I still deal with aches and pains, but the key is they are now very manageable. So yes, Speedplays work for me and I like to tell others all about them. :-)

With that in mind, there still seems to be a lot of misconceptions concerning Speedplays and I see them right here in the comments. A few need to be addressed:

1. Platform size and stability: the Speedplay platform is about the same size or larger than most other pedals…seriously! The key here is the unique design of the pedal system where the “platform” is designed into the cleat portion of the system. So if you’re looking at the lollipop-shaped pedals and asking how that can be stable, your logic is correct but you’re only considering one part of the pedal system…in this case, the wrong one. I find them to be quite stable and have never experienced the rocking sensation mentioned in Noob’s post (mine are old X/3s…now X/5s…so maybe that’s why). I’m in the market for a new pair…if those have the rocking sensation at least I know there is a solution.

2. Stack height: folks seem to be equating stack height with cornering clearance. It has nothing to do with cornering clearance. Stack height is the distance between the center of the spindle and the top of the cleat, and dictates the amount of distance between the bottom of your foot and the pedal’s spindle. Stack height affects pedaling efficiency, not cornering. Apparently, one can pedal more efficiently the closer their foot is to the spindle…meaning less stack height is better. Speedplays have relatively little stack height. The superior cornering clearance comes from the narrow profile of the pedal compared with others.

3. Additional maintenance: I’ve done nothing, and I mean nothing, to my Speedplays except one exchange of cleats over a 10 year period and they continue to work fine. I admit, I don’t walk around in them a lot. If I planned to, I would buy the cleat covers. Some of my riding buddies have also mentioned additional maintenance as a reason to shy away from Speedplays, but I just don’t find that to be a compelling reason given my experience with them.

4. Dual-sided entry: no misconceptions on this feature, just surprised that no one mentioned it as a benefit. No fumbling around with the pedal to get it on the right side to engage the cleat…just place your foot on the pedal, push and you’re locked in. Very simple in and out.

For those of you not familiar with the Bike Noob blog, I urge you to check it out. He always posts on interesting aspects of the cycling world with well written pieces and always soliciting the views of others. As a result, the comments are also well worth reading. Plus he utilizes a couple of guest bloggers who write about their cycling experiences to keep things even more topical and interesting. Keep up the good work Ray.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunrise...Sunset, Sunrise...Sunset

Here are some cool geeky sun charts I just found at:

The chart below shows sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times for the whole year for Providence, RI. Start of dawn and end of dusk times are based on the definition of "civil twilight".

The next chart is a sun path diagram, which is a visualization of the sun's path through the sky. This path is formed by plotting azimuth (left-right) and elevation (up-down) angles of the sun in a given day to a diagram.

To find out the position azimuth = 60, elevation = 30, for example, imagine standing at the center of the diagram heading to the true north. To find the azimuth angle 60, you must turn 60 degrees to the right. Now the altitude angle 30 can be located by raising your head 30 degrees from the horizon.

It can be seen from the orange line on the diagram (Sun's path today, 3/18/10) that the sun rises from the East (azimuth = 90) in Providence at 06:52. Sunset happens at 18:56 when the sun is in the West (azimuth = 270). The elevation angle is approximately 48 degrees at noon.

Saturday, 3/20 is the Vernal Equinox...better known as the first day of Spring. So what is an equinox? Funny you should ask.

Far from being an arbitrary indicator of the changing seasons, March 20 is significant for astronomical reasons. On March 20, 2010, at precisely 1:32 P.M. EDT , the Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Translated literally, equinox means "equal night." Because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes.

And that is your moment of GEEK, brought to you by TOTW!

Happy Saint Patty Day!!

Celebrated with a 24 mile ride after work (just love that DST!!!) followed by a good dinner of corned beef and cabbage...and a few more veggies to make it a nice hearty meal. Yum

I even wore green today. :-)

Hope everyone had a grand time being Irish for a day...or whooping it up if you happen to be Irish!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking the Talk

At least for today that is!

Today was the typical type of day on which I usually have a hard time motivating myself to ride. It was cloudy, cold (48F at ride time) and threatening to rain. Most of the time I find a nice convenient excuse to do something else. But not I rode.

The difference today was the fact that I was working from home and HAD a decent window of opportunity to ride. With rain on the horizon for the next 4 days it wasn't a difficult decision to make. I didn't want goose-eggs as my entry for Week 2 of my base log. It's going to be hard enough hitting targets this month with the always potentially crappy New England weather in play.

Next week we'll be on DST, which should give me more flexibility to ride and make after work rides doable with a little planning (i.e., getting out of the office early :)).

Anyway, today it was 25.6 miles at a sickening 14.4 mph pace...argh! Thirty minutes after I got home it was raining...a cold, nasty type of rain.

Base Training Plan

In my last post I mentioned my new base training plan, so here it is.
I said it was a 12 week plan, but it's really 16 weeks and will take me well into June. That's a long time for building a base but that's by design. It's basically my adaptation of a block training plan modified to address my time-crunched lifestyle and need for lots of recovery.

Key elements of the plan consist of:
  • Four 4-week blocks each peaking in the 3rd week followed by a recovery week.
  • Only 3 rides per week...meaning plenty of recovery time (down time or time for other activities)
  • Longer rides (for me at least...particularly for the Spring season)
  • More flexibility for scheduling rides
If I follow this plan, I'll end up with close to my total mileage for all of last year by the end of June. So no doubt, there is a lot of cycling involved. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Offer Too Good To Refuse...

...So I didn't.

I'm talking about this past weekend's weather of course. Full sunshine with temperatures in the mid-50s...10-15 degrees above normal for this time of year. The only blemish was a persistent northwesterly wind, but who's looking for perfection this time of year.

With these great conditions, my 2010 riding season has commenced.

On Saturday, I logged an easy 21 miles for my 1st complete ride of the year. Easy that is until I inadvertently picked-up a pair of lovely lead weights. You know, the kind you wear around your legs! I have to presume they were lost and looking for a new home. So if you missing some lead weights, I have them. I'll carry them around for a few more rides before I shed them…hopefully, someone else will claim them first. Twenty-one miles was most likely the max I had in me given my long 6 months out of the saddle. I know this because my quads started cramping at mile 20 when I stood on the pedals…I can't remember the last time I had any leg cramps while riding.

Sunday brought another beautiful day and a leisurely ride of 17 miles...lead weights and all. No one claimed them…bummer.

I'll be recording my basic weekly ride stats over on the right sidebar again. So a quick check there will tell if I'm riding or not.

As a time-crunched cyclist, I'm changing my plan of attack for this riding season. While many have completed or are nearing completion of their base miles, I'm just starting mine. My base plan is to ride fewer but longer rides this Spring. So for the next 12 weeks I'll generally be riding 3 times per week while working my way up to 50 mile rides. There will be little focus on speed during this period, while a lot of attention will be placed on proper recovery. One thing that happened last year, among a few that I would rather not repeat, was chronically sore quadriceps. I'm hoping I can manage that with fewer riding days and more rest days. Once my base miles are complete I hope to transition from rest days to active recovery days to get more rides in.

We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!