Friday, November 28, 2014

Sunday Ride

Conditions look good (enough) to get out and burn off the Thanksgiving calories on Sunday. Some chances of scattered rain, but it doesn't look like any continuous downpours will soak us. Temperatures should be in the mid to upper 50s.

Hope to see you at the Fishback Elementary parking lot at 10am on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Declaring No Joy for Friday

While the chances of rain or snow are very slight for Friday, the temperature is going to be too cold to be out on the bike for 3 to 4 hours and therefor I am going to postpone the ride.

Unfortunately, i am unavailable Saturday when conditions look better. Sunday looks to be so-so with a temperature in the 50s but with a stronger chance of spotty showers. Once I know for sure I am free on Sunday and can get a more detailed look at the hour by hour forecast I will make a call for that day. If it works out, I hope to see you there.

If not, I'll try this all again sometime in the early spring.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Post-Turkey Ride Update

Looking ahead at the long range weather forecast, it is currently not promising for the ride on the day after Thanksgiving. While it is still 12 days out and will likely change, I would prefer to hold the ride with the temperature in the 40s at the 10 AM start and with no precipitation. I will make a final call on Wednesday, November 26th and post it here and on Twitter. If necessary, I will take a look at the forecast again and consider moving it back a weekend.

Check back in next week for the final decision.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day After Thanksgiving Metric Update

As previously announced, I am planning a "deliberately casual" group ride for the day after Thanksgiving. The ride will start at 10am on that Friday from Fishback Elementary, located at 86th and Lafayette Road. The ride should cover slightly more than 100 kilometers and riding near Eagle Creek, up to Lebanon, back through Whitestown and Zionsville, up into Westfield and then back down through Carmel before returning west along 106th Street through Zionsville again and Traders' Point, finishing back at the school. I test rode the route in two parts last weekend and think it should ride pretty well and for the most part avoid too much of the Black Friday crowds.

As long as the 10am temperature is above 35 degrees and there is no snow on the ground, the ride will take place.

Please take a look at the route in the link below, and let me know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions. Hopefully if you are in the central Indiana area I will see you there.

Post Turkey Day Ride Map

Friday, October 24, 2014

Heading Into the Indoor Season and Another Pro to Attempt The Hour

Your feet push on the pedals causing them to turn the cranks and the cranks turn the chainring which drives the chain which in turn causes the rear wheel to spin and drive the bicycle, the earth also moves in a 'cycle.' Just as all of these elements move in a repeating cycle, so does the earth in it's orbit, and by extension the seasons. The long hours of summer have again given way to shorter days and earlier sunsets. While the weather hasn't been too bad by my standards, I still have to accept that I am now into the indoor season and will be spending at least the weeknights on the trainer. Weather dependent, I still will have the weekends out on the roads to help offset the many hours of staring at the inside of my garage that are ahead.

As I make the transition into the next part of the year, another professional rider has announced he will make an attempt at the Hour. As most expected, the dominoes are starting to fall now that the rules have been changed and the hour has been made attainable again. Jens Voigt's recent success of raising the record to 51.115 kilometers is indeed the catalyst most had hoped for. This time, it will be made by a rider from the IAM Cycling team, Matthias Brändle. The attempt will occur in Aigle, Switzerland on October 30th. It is very good, from my perspective, to see these attempts being made for two reasons: 1) it harkens back to the 1980s and 1990s, before the rules were changed to limit the influence of technological innovation on the record, when attempts were taking place frequently and a greater audience was interested, and 2) increased interest helps me with my goals.

Here is a short promo video Brändle's team created, followed by a link to the announcement about the attempt. I think I need to find someone with a camera to shoot a promo video for myself...

Matthias Brandle Hour Record Attempt/

Friday, October 3, 2014

Putting Together a Group Ride

I am in the early stages of planning a 100km ride to occur on either the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving. I am hoping this ride will keep myself, and others, motivated heading into the winter months. I picture it as a conversational  ~18mph pace and probably taking 4 hours to complete.

The preliminary route will course through the Eagle Creek area, up to Lebanon, back down alongside I-65 and then through Whitestown and Zionsville, picking up part of the Nebo Ridge route, over to Carmel, and then back through Zionsville and Trader's Point.

Check out the route plan below, and if you are in the Indy-metro area and have an interest in joining me, please let me know. I'll post updates as I finalize the plans and as the day draws closer.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Hour Social

Planning to set up the trainer and hammer away on it today while watching The Jensie attempt at the hour.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jens Voigt's Hour

As you may have read in my last updates post, there is going to be an attempt made at The Hour by soon-to-be-retired professional Jens Voigt on Thursday, September 18th at 1pm ET US. Most of us in the US who were paying attention knew that we would probably have to find alternative means (a pirated internet stream) in order to watch, but it now appears that Trek Bikes, Jens' team sponsor is going to host a feed on their website here:

It appears that the UCI, the sport's governing body, will also be streaming the event live through their channel on Youtube. The link is here.

While historically corporate website hosted live feeds like the one from Trek are sometimes unreliable, it is good to see it will be available to us here in the states. So if you want to see exactly what this event is that I have been talking about for two years now, check out one of the links above, or look for an alternative Eurosport feed, on Thursday.

In the meantime, here is another write up on his attempt, why it matters, and a little more background on The Hour.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Few Random Thoughts

As the summer is winding down--yes, it is, just go ahead and stop fooling yourselves and admit it--I've got a few random note to pass along.

While I was unable to put in place everything necessary to attempt the Hour this year, I will start the process anew with an eye towards next summer. One of the challenges I found in my hunt for sponsors was that I never had a fundraising component. Initially this was because I thought it might be a distraction and more work than I wanted to deal with while also trying to focus on getting stronger on the bike and fulfilling my familial obligations. However, I may have created a sort of compromise. I am going to propose to many of the local and national diabetes organizations to set up a pledge system. The idea will be to have donors make gifts based on the total number of kilometers I complete during the Hour attempt. I believe this will help The Merckx Project attract the attention of an important diabetes philanthropy, which will help spread my reach, in turn leading to greater sponsor interest.

On the riding front, I have seen a marked improvement in my average speed and total distance over last summer. Naturally, neither are where I want them to be at this point. But I do recognize that gains have been made. The trick now is to carry it through the winter and maintain this new, higher foundation for the start of next year.

One of the challenges I faced was the burnout phase. This is the same thing I had to deal with last summer. After putting down a lot of hard miles in May and June, a switch flipped in July and I had to back off in order to not completely blow up. Last year, I knew I had hit that overtraining plateau, but didn't have a direct cause. This year, I realized that it was the type of efforts and lack of easy days in June that caused it. So next year, I should be aware to not over do it in June so as not to wreck my progress heading into August.

The health news I have to share isn't exactly something I'm happy about. My August A1C had jumped an entire point in the three months since May. So I went from a respectable 7 to troubling 8.1. I am attributing it to a combination of complacency with the 7 and my increased appetite resulting from all the extra calories burned. Cramping has been a problem when the summer heat & humidity set in, so I had started adding Tang to one of my water bottles. Generally, I should be burning off most of that sugar, but there is always a chance it's still hanging around in the blood stream.  First and foremost though, I just need to do a better job of checking my blood glucose levels and dialing up enough Novolog when I eat. Ideally, I can get down to a 6.5 A1C and keep it there.

Finally, this year has seen a lot of talk about the professionals taking up attempts at the Hour Record after many years of passing over it. A change last year at the top of the sport's governing body seemed to open the door to the possibility the UCI would revise the restrictive rules that have been in place for a decade and a half. They did so in late-spring and it seems to have had the desired effect of sparking a renewed interest in the feat.

Often the Hour Record is seen as a cyclist's swan song, and this also plays into the record's revival. There are a few top pros who have reached or are nearing the downward arc of their careers. Most expect former World Time Trial Champion and Paris Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara to make an attempt, and he has announced and then postponed said endeavor. Another such rider is the recently 'retired' Jens Voigt who has announced he will make an attempt in two week's time on September 18th.

Always the opportunist, I am hoping to parlay this rebirth of the Hour Record into interest in The Merckx Project.

So that is it from my end for now. See you out on the road...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome Prendas Ciclismo to The Merckx Project

I would like to introduce you to and thank Prendas Ciclismo, a new supporter of The Merckx Project. Prendas is a UK-based online retail clothing specialist with a 'focus on the unique, most-practical, and the stylish for whatever your level of riding.'

Prendas features a selection of the utilitarian and 'retro' for all of your cycling wear needs. Obviously, as The Merckx Project, we'd be partial to the Molteni line of clothing. But the Brooklyn, Mapei, and La Vie Claire aren't bad either. We also like the Prendas-branded gloves, socks, caps, and arm warmers that do their job without the industry name markup.

So please join me in thanking them for their support, and throw a few quid their way the next time you need more kit. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Increased Miles and Lower Blood Sugars

In years past I would always hit a point in the riding season, usually late-July to early-August, where I would always struggle with extremely low fasting or overnight blood sugars. This would be a result of putting in longer miles and harder efforts on the bike during the long summer days with few family or social commitments. When I stopped riding from 2006-2010, the overnight lows also stopped. Now that I'm back on the bike and riding more consistently year round, those low spells are back, but at different times of the year.

Now, hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes aren't all bad despite the inherent personal safety risk. It can be an indicator that I have a pretty firm control on my diet and exercise balance. My last A1C test, a measure of the amount of glucose (sugar) that is attached to red blood cells, was 7.0. This is an acceptable number for a type 1 diabetic. The normal human body number is 5.7, but I've found anything below 6.8 leaves my blood sugar too low for my to function properly throughout the day.

With the daylight hours increasing through the spring so did my saddle time and mileage. As a result, thanks to the MapMy Ride app I use on my phone, I have been able to see that my burned calories have increased as well. Those that follow bicycle racing may know that the pros can burn through 10,000 calories during a race. For the mere mortals like the rest of us, I am using about 2000 kcal on weeknight and 3000+ kcals of effort on weekend rides. The USDA recommends 2000-2800 daily calories for most active adults depending on gender and age. So it's no stretch that I might sometimes operate at a deficit. If I needed to lose weight, this is a good thing. However; in my case, this causes a depletion of glycogen stores. Basically my body's gas tank is running on fumes at times.

The simple solution is to eat more complex carbohydrates: pasta, rice, grains. Unfortunately, since I am my own personal chef and have many other responsibilities to attend to, it's not always that easy. But it usually only takes a few adjustments to get it right. And that allows me to keep riding on and logging those beneficial miles.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Blog Refresh

The blog has been a little slow lately, so I decided to take a look back and examine what I have already written about in order to find some writing creativity going forward. As I read through my posts, I noticed that 1) the subject matter was a little too repetitive (even for a blog about riding a bicycle) and 2) I never really discuss being a diabetic, which is an integral part of The Merckx Project.

So going forward, I am going to make sure I expand my focus to include how being a diabetic effects my efforts on the bike. I'm also hoping to start including before and after ride blood sugars and an estimated carbs consumed during rides counts over on twitter when I post MapMyRide results. It will be in a format like 133/112/25 to keep it simple.

I'm starting to like how I am feeling out on the bike right now, and the miles are adding up. The increased effort is starting to cause low blood sugars throughout the day, however, and I'm starting to eat like I have my late-teens/early-twenties metabolism again (see, new emphasis). But you'll have to stay tuned for the next post for more details and updates...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Bicyclist's Creed

This is my bicycle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My bicycle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My bicycle, without me, is useless. Without my bicycle, I am useless. I must ride my bicycle true. I must ride harder than those who ridden before me. I must kill the hour before the hour kills me. I will...
My bicycle and I know that what counts in this race is not the type of frame, the noise of our chain, nor the saddle we ride. We know that it is the pedalling that counts. We will pedal...
My bicycle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its fit and its feel. I will keep my bicycle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before the prophet, I swear this creed. My bicycle and I are the defenders of the cog. We are the masters of our suffering. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until 49.710 kilometers is ridden, and there is a new record.

The above is my adaptation of "My Rifle (The Creed of the United States Marine)," familiar to most of us by way of Full Metal Jacket (or, perhaps, Family Guy). It is written specific to my hour attempt. There are some other versions on the internet that are also "Bicyclist's Creed" adaptations, such as this one from Peter Bay.

The modified creed is one of many tricks I am using to keep myself motivated while whiling the hours away this winter on the trainer. It is one thing to spin on the trainer; it is another to hammer oneself every day looking towards the ultimate goal.

Starting at the beginning of the year, I instituted a 2 days on, 1 day off riding rotation to keep myself fresh and focused. My concern wasn't so much about not resting, it was about too much rest and too many days in a row off of the bike. While I haven't adhered to it perfectly, it has helped keep me from finding excuses to take "another" day off during the cold season. This is especially important on those days when it's so cold outside that I have to use leg warmers to ride the trainer in the garage.

Fortunately, I have also been able to get outdoors a few times this winter including a ride this past Sunday in 40 degrees fahrenheit and rain. My fingers and toes got soaked and nearly froze but it felt good to be out and neither my legs nor lungs had many complaints.

For now, until the weather and daylight allow more outdoor riding, it will be a lot of trainer time. Right now I'm in 'segment 2' of a loose plan i created to piggyback with the 2 on/1 off rotation. January's trainer sessions were predominantly a warm up, 45 minutes of effort, and then a cool down. Now that it is February, I've upped the time to 60 minutes, and will up it again to 75 minutes the last week of the month. That will go on until I can get out on the road with any regularity. To keep me motivated, I've been watching a mix of old races, training specific videos, and ride videos streamed from online. While I want to get stronger, i know that doing a Sufferfest-like video every day on the trainer will lead to a burnout sooner both physically and mentally. And I won't have that benefit available to motivate me when riding the hour, so I've got to condition myself to suffer within my own faculties.

I guess I'll have to memorize that creed to keep my mind busy.