One Speed Open

I was riding fixed (48×17) and managed the little technical bits alright but really needed to slow down.

A photo posted by Joshua Krabbe (@jdkrabbe) on

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Diary of a self-coached athlete

The past couple weeks of training have been relatively successful. Successful in the sense that I am once again able to be completing workouts. Success has not been marked by extraordinary speed or fitness. That is most-certainly not there, Taking 5 weeks off of everything due to my trouble with the Achilles has been a bit of a rough go of things. Finding routine again though has been good and I’ve had a lot of joy in just getting back into the roll of things.

As I’m not pursuing Ironman in the imminent future, discussion with my coach has resulted in a situation where I’m the one planning all of my own workouts. Steven Lord will still be on-board for occasional discussions and feedback when I solicit it but for 2011 the thinking and planning is once again all mine. I’ll be posting a blog entry similar to this one (without this preamble in future) as an update of my progress in the previous 4 weeks and charting the plan for the next four weeks.

I’ll start with two weekly summaries of the previous two weeks. The focus has been on recovery and getting back into training safely and gradually. It meant that during the first week I only logged 10kms of running over 3 different runs. The second week I logged almost 33kms over the course of 6 running sessions. This was meant to be slightly higher as I had opted to allow myself to try and run up to 70 minutes duration on Saturday on my first run outside. I opted to be prudent and trimmed this run short as I could feel that my legs were getting quite fatigued and I logged only 9.5kms in 52 minutes.

2010-11-15 to 2010-11-21

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Hike 3 km 0:30:00 6 6 6 kph
Run 10.14 km 0:54:00 5:20 5:20 5:20 min per km
Swim 1500 m 0:40:00 2:40 2:40 2:40 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 0:30:00 na na na no pace units
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 6 hrs 14min

2010-11-22 to 2010-11-28

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 32.75 km 2:55:00 6:15 5:21 4:45 min per km
Swim 3500 m 1:26:33 3:00 2:28 1:39 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 1:05:00 na na na no pace units
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 9 hrs 6min

During this period of time I’ve also done a few things worth noting here on the blog. I signed up to ski the 55km Birkebeiner with a 5.5kg pack like I did back in 2009. This was a very difficult challenge that last time I did it but overall it was a good time. You can read all about that adventure in the world of suffering [here]. To be completely honest, right now I’m in pretty poor shape skiing-wise, certainly no better than the last time I did it. So I’ll be putting in a bit more of a concerted effort in that regard as the race approaches to ensure that I’m not going to be knocking myself out by doing this, I still don’t think it will be easy (nor should it be easy, that’s the point. Borrowing from the theme of a recent post I’ll refer you to Rule #10). I’ve got some company along for the ride on this endeavor as at least Jan and Dave have also signed up for the ultra-long version and I’m sure Stefan, Emily and many others will be joining us for the faster versions of the race in mid-February.

I’m hoping to use XC skiing as a way to improve my aerobic fitness with relatively low impact demands, because doing that on the bike requires too much wall-staring while sitting on a turbo. The fitness has been dropped significantly during my time away with zero physical activity. This was no surprise, but because I want to be careful how I rebuild I’m going to use this form of low impact cross training to beef it up before I expect to be running 50 miles per week. This isn’t an abnormal strategy for me. The following picture is an interesting plot of how the three sports of swim/bike/run (green/blue/red) respectively have helped to total up to 100% of my fitness (y-axis) over the past few years (x-axis). It’s obvious from this chart that each winter there’s a significant amount of cross training that occurs to keep me from going crazy, and then as the cross-training fitness fades away the specificity of the other fitnesses for triathlon rises. The black vertical bar indicates the present time. Remember here that this has erased the information of my overall fitness by normalizing to 100%. You can see that I’ll be developing about 1/3 of my fitness outside of the sports of triathlon before really pouring focus into the run in a way that I never have before (red band gets THICK!). For interest sake I slapped in a bunch of big but totally achievable bike weeks following the marathon to show what would happen if I really focus on the bike during May, by early June I’m likely able to be a pretty focused cyclist again, but it will take almost a month to do it. Patience, patience, patience.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

I’ve also elected to use a Pfitzinger style training plan for my running in the lead-up to the marathon on May 1 (I’ve elected to race the BMO Vancouver Marathon) and so have back-calculated all the dates and plugged in the running sessions along the way with relatively reasonable hypotheses for the training duration and intensity of each. For my first marathon I followed a plan more closely based on the FURMAN FIRST strategy, but based on watching my response to training in the past year I am quite sure that I will respond better to a program with a different style. The Pfitzinger plan is composed of four mesocycles (parts) with different focus along the way and I’ve elected (at least right now – I may change my mind) to try and do the final three stages as close to the plan’s guide as is possible. I have however opted to use a slightly prolonged version of the endurance building phase that is based more closely to what has proven successful during the past year of my running than is set out by the running plan. I’m also very interested in continuing to track my MAF Heart Rate during training to monitor it’s progress as I believe this metric is an extremely important indicator of potential success at long course triathlon. I’ll be tracking this very specifically during the endurance building phases of preparation and then tracking it perhaps a bit less directly when I have to get into the later phases of the Pfitzinger plan. There is a lot of marathon pace running that will occur and if I select run courses intelligently I’ll be able to find myself some periods of good testing along the way during that training. It means training for the sake of testing in the endurance mesocycle and testing for the sake of training in the final three mesocycles. It means I won’t be doing the MAF tests in as controlled an environment and for a full 5 miles as I did this past year. My observation in retrospect is that, even if you try and be controlled, your data is going to be perturbed by all sorts of factors. I’m better off to be more frequently recording data regarding my MAF pace than to be relying on occasional testing metrics. I hope I have recorded my season-worst MAF result of 5:18/km or 8:32/mile during my first (rather short but I believe accurate) test last week since the running has been underway. It’s a far cry from the 4:04 or so I got to at my season’s best pace, but it leaves a lot of room for improvement which in some sense is satisfying. It proves that I am a human being, in discussion with swim coach Matt, this is actually a really healthy thing to learn when your fitness doesn’t immediately matter.

All in all the running program if completed as planned will result in me hitting a running fitness metric approximately 40% greater than I have ever achieved in my life before. I can do that without getting anywhere near the levels of training stress that I endured this past season (because I’m doing it with single-sport focus) so while I sounds like I’m really planning to stretch myself, I am pretty confident that I can do this while maintaining a lot better life-balance than some periods of 2010. My run-training stresses should not exceed what I have done in the past and my overall training stress balance will be significantly easier than this past year. The chart seen here indicates the plan if I am successful in hitting every workout along the way, and because the chronic load (red) is somewhat cumulative in nature, I know that due to the times I come up short in training and have to skip things that this is a best case scenario.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts
click image for larger

Planned training for the next four weeks has been laid out: [in this .pdf file] if you’re interested in looking at it. Rather simply, I’m slowly building a long run on Saturdays, and the first of the runs came up short this past week so it might be the case that this plan is a bit ambitious, I reserve the right to lay off a bit with that progression and not make it up to 20kms before Christmas. Although, if I keep hitting frequency in a similar way to that which I have in the past two weeks (10 runs in 15 days) I think comfortably getting that long run out to 20kms is not going to be an issue. All my running is subject to a strict MAF cap with the exception of the Tuesday night club run where I am free to run as I feel. Cycling is twice weekly along with swimming, and I am hitting the gym twice weekly to work with light weights at 20 repetitions, two or three sets depending on the movement and emphasizing a full range of motion with preference for multi-joint and free weights. This is going well, and is designed to allow me to hit a few weeks of high strength focus in early January prior to the running volume starting to take off. Whether or not these strength gains can be maintained through much of the running focus is questionable but doing this feels like an appropriate response to establish confident and balanced muscles following a period of limping and being lazy.

The performance management chart metrics calculated for this period of time are as follows:

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

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The bike tree

We need a few of these on campus for all the commuter bikes.

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BE: Bread Experiment or Bleeding Extremities

The stories of the last weekend are worth mentioning… I wound up bleeding from both hands, one elbow, a knee and an ankle on Sunday afternoon after crashing the Surly on Sunday afternoon on Scona Hill. I was also successful in a culinary experiment on Saturday evening.

Saturday’s accomplishments involved hitting the pool for a few length, spending far too long in the lab preparing a deposition chamber and making a half dozen loaves of bread. I had a giant Yam sitting around since Thanksgiving that hadn’t been eaten yet and I decided that because it was mostly carbs I would try and put it into a few loaves of bread as an experiment. It turned out fantastic and although not every potato bread I’ve ever eaten has been good this one is actually great. I’ll admit it doesn’t do so well with just a bit of jam aboard for a ride but cheese, a fried egg (well three fried eggs, it’s not worth frying eggs unless I’m going to eat three), peanut butter, and plain toast with butter are all good ways to go. We’ll see what becomes of this new adventure, I’ve been making bread on a nearly weekly basis for the last year and besides using the water from boiled potatoes I haven’t actually tried very seriously the option of using potato starch as a considerable ingredient in the mix. The basic idea was dice up the yam into small bits and then enough water to cover and nuke it until it starts to mush up. I then pureed the yam and used that slime/slop along with some more water to get the temperature right to proof the yeast. I typically use molasses for simple sugars in the bread but used demerara sugar instead so the yam flavor didn’t get overpowered. A cup of wheat germ spread over 6 loaves and then flour, mostly keynote 39 and not so much whole wheat because I wasn’t sure if the dough was going to be excessively crummy due to the potatoes which I think is one of the main beef’s I’ve had with other potato breads I’ve eaten in the past.

So… On to the story about the wipeout. Cyclocross provincial championships were happening at Gold-Bar Park out on the east end of Edmonton. Dave, one of the other bike coaches from the University of Alberta Triathlon club was racing as well as a bunch of others that I know via the cycling grapevine. The elite race was set to go at 1 pm so we rolled out from my place around noon to head over there. The sun was shining as we cruised along Saskatchewan drive, Neil was rocking the Surly Cross Check and I was riding my Surly Steamroller which now has winter tyres and my winter gear on. I was blasting out a stupid cadence of 120-125 revs per minute (38-39.5 kph) as Neil tucked in behind for the draft. I think we were both quite enjoying the view over the river valley which is mostly brown now, the leaves are for the most part all gone. We’re ready for winter here. So we get to the end of the road and turn left down Scona Hill. The downhill means that my cadence is really going nuts and I was easily over 45 kph (around 145 cadence and could have been upwards to 155rpm: 49 kph). So, those kinds of speeds on the fixed gear are a real hoot but they do mean I’m at the limit and Neil and his gears are still going to get away from me. I clock 60 kph down that hill all the time on my tri-bike and am incapable of spinning the 190 rpm it would take to do that on the fixie. So now Neil is out front of me, a bit to the left as we come to the place where Connors Hill Road merges with Scona and there are some serious lane bumps due to heavy trucks and a few potholes here to boot. Suddenly Neil is on the ground and his bike is in my half of the lane. I ride right over his front wheel as I unclip from my pedals and wind up on my hands and knees after kinda jumping over my bike which manages to tangle with Neil’s as it goes past. I’m quickly up from the pavement and grab the two bikes which are caught in a loving embrace and jump over the guard rail onto the grass. Neil is also on the grass and we share a few seconds of “whoa” and “oh shit” and “dude!” before sending the cars away that had stopped with overweight women hanging out of the windows offering to call the ambulance. I only convince the one to leave by showing her my cell phone. A car full of friends from triathlon club also manages to drive by while we stand over the guard rail and I wave them on. Giffin is recruited via cell phone to come pick us up with the jeep. Neil’s front wheel did a less spectacular version of the potato chip bend that I did in August but it looks like it’ll need to be replaced. His brake lever was upside down. My stem is a bit off center and the bar tape that was already hurting is really shredded now.

That’s the jist of it, Neil’s bike fit in the jeep and mine didn’t really fit so I used some hockey tape from the back seat to tape closed the missing patch of skin on my left palm and started to head home. After a bit of backtracking I realized I didn’t actually need to go home as the pressure on my hand from the hockey tape was helping a lot so I turned again and continued on to the cyclocross race which I had missed the start of. It was great fun and we got to watch a few guys go head over heels trying to cross the sand trap. Aaron cleaned up in the race and won by a good margin, Jon was really fried at the finish and had come sixth, Dave had won his category earlier in the day and Bridget had come second. I am borderline convinced to race next season, it looks like a load of fun, I’m just not sure what equipment I’m going to have to use. Riding the sport category on my fixie is an option but I’m not sure how good of an option it is. That’s part cyclocross and part horsing around in a field, The other options however aren’t very cheap at all.

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The first 100 hours!

I passed the threshold of 100 hours of logged exercise for 2008 during the bike ride on Saturday afternoon. What does that mean? Well, nothing at all. Other useless stats I know about the last 5 months:

  • I haven’t been on Cross country skis for 78 days.
  • I am “twenty meters” short of logging 300 kms on my fixed gear bike since Christmas.
  • I’ve ridden 953.65 kms on my bike since the handlebar swap, 650.32 of which has been outside on pavement.
  • I’m embarrassed about how little I actual rode my rollers this past year, please don’t calculate how little that actually was. On a brighter note, I did pass all my classes as a result.
  • Swimming accounts for only 2.66% of my time spent exercising in 2008!

All kinds of useless facts like that can be logged on the website I’ve been using to keep track of my training this season. I decided around November that I’d benefit from keeping track of these things. I sorted through about a half-dozen websites that do this for you before settling on which one I was going to use. It’s kinda like a marriage, once you commit to one you’ve gotta stick with it, even if it turns out to have a few flaws it’s way more work to go and start out with a new one. All the time investment in the system warrants continued commitment to it. So, just like choosing a wife (because I am very well experienced in that department – ha!) I auditioned a few for about a week and tested out all of their different features. I settled on using a website called Tri-Fuel which allows me to give my own “definitions” to a bunch of sports and then log things under each one. I decided that the top three characteristics I was looking for in a partner were: simplicity of use, flexibility and ability to extract statistics. I needed something that would allow me to fill out the “time” and “sport” of one workout and leave everything else blank if I didn’t know it because half the time I don’t really care that much about heart rates etc. I also needed something that would allow me to log fixed gear bicycling separately from freewheel cycling. That’s not a feature that is as universal as you might think unfortunately.

So, I’m using this website: to track stuff. If you’re looking for one, I would recommend using the tri-fuel training log to anyone who is interested in logging aerobic fitness, it would be brutal if you wanted to keep track of weights etc but it was never designed for that so it’s no surprise that it wouldn’t work well.

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Speeding on a bike

I managed to speed on my bike along three stretches of road that had different speed limits today. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite eclipse 80 kilometers per hour along the other stretch of road: I only made it to 74 kph. I’m sorry, I promise to do better next time. I wouldn’t want to set a really tough top-speed for the season so early in the year that I can’t break it for the next 3 months, that would just be disappointing. Anyhow, I clocked 38 kph through a playground zone, 53 kph along a minor road, and 67 through a 60 zone without even pedaling, just placed my chin on the handlebars and went for it after 50 kph.

I also rode the bike with any amount of weight in the front bag for the first time today, probably 2kgs: a litre of water, some snacks, tools, gloves and jacket. It certainly handles differently with weight up front. I spent a while getting used to the straight fork of the cervelo compared with the fixed gear steamroller but I don’t notice it anymore, I assume it’ll be the same thing with weight in the bag, a bit of getting used to and then no problem at all.

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VLog – Last day of school

Video Log #4

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VLog – Saskatchewan Drive

Video Log #1

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Ready for some more snow

Riding the fixed gear has been a bit of an adventure since the snow really started accumulating this past weekend. Some insane lockups have had me scaring myself at points. It’s really be an interesting challenge to ride fixed gear in the snow, typically there has always been some brute force involved with riding bikes in snow, and often spinning out just goes with the territory. That’s not been the case riding fixie to the same extent, if I spin out I’m going to be in rough shape and likely will have to step off a pedal. Instead I’m very aware of weight distribution and power application as I negotiate curbs, snowbanks, icy patches and death cookies. There’s a heightened awareness of how tight I’m pulling corners as all chances to slip out will likely grant you the opportunity to slide. If I thought I was learning to think in advance of where I planned to go just by riding fixed during the summer, winter fixie riding has really done some re-teaching of that concept.

I’m suprised how well the $6 tyres I bought are working out, I’m running them with low pressure, especially the front, which is on a free wheel/rim that I’m not particularily concerned about denting. I don’t believe the progression to spikes is going to be necessary this winter with the short commute I’m doing.


I just finished getting appropriate bindings mounted on the skis my Dad picked up in Calgary for cheap so that they match the boots I got a month ago here in Edmonton. Less than perfect communication meant that we had to deal with the less than perfect situation brought on by the incompatibility of SNS and NNN binding styles. At any rate there’s a match now and I’m excited to get out on the snow to do some classic skiing this winter. The river valley trails are going to see some use from me this winter as I’ve got a lot of preparation to do in advance of the Birkebeiner race in early February. The number of people who I’ve found that have equipment and would like to get out on the trails is awesome. A couple triathlon club people and a few people I know through IVCF. It should be a good opportunity to get out and spend some time developing a skill I haven’t really used since I started the downhill skiing era in grade 5.

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Winter Fixie

Made the conversion of my Fixed gear today… for the most part. I finally got ahold of some presta tubes that fit the tyres I got. I got Schraeder originally because no 38 mm tubes were in stock… but of course they don’t fit through the rim. I’ve got things in line now and the fatties are ready to ride! I also flipped the stem upside down, it’s a steep one and with the fork having a much more considerable rake than my tri bike I didn’t really realize how much higher I could put the bars. They’re good though, really upright for riding.

Winter Fixie
Winter Fixie

I unfortunately had to swap the gear back for the 17 tooth. My chain is just a couple links short of what I need to fit it on the 20 tooth cog. That’s OK for now I suppose but I’ll need to get some chain links to fix that problem before it gets really icy.

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