Tag Archives: Kirk Flinte

Sun, rain, wind, and hail

It was time at noon on Saturday to start my fundraising ride for BJU The Ride. The goal was to get as many miles possible during a five hour period riding around a .85 mile course. Yes, you read that right… 5 hours going around a .85 mile loop. I’m still going round and round in my head!

The coolest thing about the whole day (other than the weather) was the fact that my son rode over to the event with me. It was his first ride on his new Specialized Allez! He earned it working hard in school and getting this multiplication tables memorized. I kept looking over at him with a big smile on my face. Yep, life was good.

We got there and we started right up. On the first lap it was obvious it was going to be a tough day! After the nice slightly downhill where we were protected somewhat from the wind by large buildings, we made a right hand turn into a howling headwind. It was going to be a long day for my friends, Eric, Dave, Mike, Kirk, Chris, and me.

2010 The Ride

The six official participants finish a lap (Photo Eddie Helton)

Not only was that headwind strong, it was coming straight down the only major climb on the course. It made that 40 feet or so of climbing that much harder. Before the day was done, I would hit that climb and wind 105 times.

The road then curved that made the headwind turn into a crosswind. Turning another corner put you on another downhill — but back into the headwind. Really, on the whole course, you only had one short respite from the wind.

Jonathan Jr. hung with us for several laps. His little body was nearly being stopped by the wind! I tried to work with him to help him find shelter, but it was his first group ride and he wasn’t that confident coming in close to some of the other bikes. It was a little too much for him. I was proud of him though and he did well! I’m looking forward to riding more with him in the days, months, and years ahead.

I was very fearful about the rain. The forecast was calling for it. Thankfully, we only got a few brief showers for the most part. There were a few times when there was rain on the back side of the course and dry as a bone on the front side. Overall, the rain was not an issue. Until later in the ride…

Before long it was every man for himself. The varying riding abilities of the different riders made it so that it was hard to stay together. A few times I thought I was pulling the crew and looking back realized I had dropped them. I mean one of these guys hadn’t ridden in some time. He finished all five hours!

It was really neat to see Eddie Helton show up for the ride. Racers will recognize him as the photographer that takes some great pictures of our events here in the Greenville area. He was so kind to take some pictures of our little event AND get out his bike and ride with us! Several other riders came over to encourage us as we made our laps. It made my heart warm on an otherwise cool day.

Kirk Flinte was there and we ended up connecting and riding for a good bit of time. The two of us put in some hot laps, but for the most part just rode tempo and talked. Shortly before the four hour mark, Kirk went in front of me and pulled me through the wind for about 10 minutes. Then he was gone and I was alone again.

I eased up a bit in that final hour. My legs were starting to let me know they hadn’t ridden this far since October! The wind picked up even worse and the clouds were threatening. The last 30 minutes could be brutal!

With only about 15 minutes to go, I was starting up that climb into the wind. It had just started the rain and the wind was whipping my bike about. Then the rain started to hurt! It was like it was cutting my face. “What is going on?” I thought to myself. I had to bind my head to keep the rain from hitting my face.

As I looked down, I noticed the “rain” was bouncing! “That’s not rain,” I thought. “It’s hailing!” Then I made that turn from the crosswind to a headwind. I could not look up to see where I was going. Thankfully, the brim of my cycling cap was protecting my face.

Before the lap was complete, the hail let up and not longer afterward the rain did as well. The wind never did. It fought us the entire time.

I have ridden 100+ mile numerous times in 5 hours. This was one of the hardest rides I have attempted. The course wasn’t exactly thrilling, but it was the conditions that made it hard.

One thing I know. It is the hard rides that you remember the longest. The easy rides are most enjoyable at the time, but they are so many they all meld together. “Remember that ride where we got hailed on?” Any one of us can say that and it will bring the ride back into full focus.

The funny thing is that time will make the pain enjoyable.

From the pot to the bottle

Here is a quick update on my “nasal irrigation” story from last week. I had been asking about what people thought of the Neti Pot. Lot’s of people told me I should give it a try and a few offered an alternative to the classy looking piece of ceramic.

Here... stick this up your nose

Here... stick this up your nose

So, what did I think? Well, it wasn’t so bad. I thought I would end up sputtering and choking while I gagged myself. However, once I figured out how to direct the stream of water through my nose it felt pretty good.

What I expected was to feel a sudden openness in my nasal passages. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. While the soothing warm water did clear mucus out of my nose, it did not reduce the swelling of my membraines. So, I still had a feeling of constriction, but it did help me breathe a bit better.

I figure that during this season of colds and mold allergies, I’ll keep doing this a couple times a week. I’ll also keep using my saline  sinus spray to keep those little cilia happy. With a little luck, I might be able to be ready for the big throw down with Kirk Flinte on Paris Mountain on January 30th. If you can, come out and support this fun event on eveyone’s favorite climb.

Wish I could see myself as some others do

This weekend is the French Broad River Classic.  It is a race in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is my plan to participate in the road race.

This year is supposed to be a pretty tough course.  There are supposed to be several climbs of over three miles.  The course covers about 40 miles.

I’m not thinking that much about it.  I’ve kind of changed my approach to racing.  I had started out the year trying to arrange my riding schedule around the races.  Now I am being less strict with my riding leading up to a race.

The reason is because I was starting to lose the fun of riding.  I’ve always tried to take the approach that I race to ride – I don’t ride to race.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to win.  It does mean that for the amount of time I ride, it doesn’t make sense to spend it worrying about the few races I attempt.

So, Monday night I put out my effort on Paris Mountain.  Tuesday night I jumped in for several laps in the 25.5 mph A group for just under 30 miles.  Thursday I want to ride with my pals.  Friday I’ll head up to Asheville and do some spinning there.  Then Saturday I’ll give it my best shot.

I’ve had plenty of people asking me if I was planning on doing the race.  They keep saying that I’ll do very well – that it is “your kind of course.”  I’m not sure how to respond.  It has been so long since I have participated in a road race, I don’t know what is going to happen.

It is more fun to think about last night’s ride.  It was a hot night at Donaldson Center.  I figured I would give it a good push for the early part and then pull off toward the end.

Things got started early.  In the first lap a group attacked.  I was coming up behind Kirk Flinte and since he had Tweeted earlier that there wouldn’t be anyone getting away, I joked with him that they were getting away and he needed to go get them.  Well, he did!

I got on his wheel with several other riders.  Kirk pulled us for a massive amount.  Then I rotated up to the front and pulled us to the tail end of the breakaway.  The usual suspects came through and I jumped on their wheels.  Not smart.  I couldn’t hang on.

I ended up helping to pull back two more breaks in the first two laps.  In the third lap I started to slip back through the field and crossed the start finish near the tail end.  Then I just took a final lap to wind down.

The way I plan to approach these Tuesday night rides, I’ll get up there in the front and try to stay with the Cat 1 and 2 riders as long as I can.  Sure, I’ll get dropped, but each time I may be able to stay up there a little longer.

Besides, it might make those Cat 4 road races seems a bit easier.

Going batty and a couple more things

I last rode my bike Friday.  Saturday I took my sons to a little amusement park, and now on Monday morning I’m still feeling it.  I guess I can’t just jump in and do things like I used to.

The ride was somewhat of a disappointment.  You may recall that Friday’s ride was supposed to be my attempt at my best 60 min peak power reading.  On Monday I had finished my warm-up ride with a reading of 276 watts.  Tuesday was a long ride that I believe took more out of me than I planned.  Wednesday was a short spin while Thursday was a little longer, but very much a recovery ride.

I thought things were going very well as I started out on that Friday.  The earlier attempt taught me a few things and I was trying to use that knowledge.  At 20 minutes I was averaging 294 watts.  By 30 minutes in I was at a 297 watts average.  Then it started going downhill.

It was about this time the heat (it was 92 degrees with high humidity) started to get to me.  That was a big difference between Friday and Monday.  Monday’s ride was wonderful.  This one was not.

I was now riding in survival mode.  The goal was to maintain as much of that average as possilbe.  I knew I wasn’t going to build on it.

With 10 minutes to go I was hanging around 271 watts.  At that point I couldn’t remember what my earlier average was.  Was it 265 or 275?  Turns out I ended up right smack between those two numbers.  It was a bit disappointing to only end up with my second best 60 minute reading.  Still, that was two attempts in one week with only a 5 watt drop off.

Saturday I was thinking about all my friends riding in the Caesars Head Challenge.  I really would have liked to have ridden in the first ever (though I am sure not the last) event.  My plans for the day were to take my boys to a little amusement park in the morning and then return home to Greenville after spending a last few hours with my family.

We started off with some minature golf.  I was playing with my brother-in-law and my two nephews.  My boys and their cousin, who is their age, were playing in their own group.  Needless to say, I got beat.  I got behind by a stroke early and then started taking chances in order to try to get back.  Wrong move.

Next, I helped my boys give the batting cages a swing.  I was proud of the way Thing Two got in there and took it to those 40 mph pitches.  Up to this point he had only received pitches from his coach in coaches pitch.  He is going to be ready to move up next year.

My older nephews talked me into getting into their cage where they were swinging at 80 mph balls.  I got one of the first four.  Then I started to figure out the timing and started getting a piece of about everyone that came at me.  A couple were even very solid hits.

Then it was on to go-karts.  That was very fun!  All in all it was a very fun morning and well worth the time I spent with my guys.  However, all weekend I’ve been suffering.

The batting cage did me in.  In college I had taken up tennis.  One day I was rushing and went out to practice my serve.  I didn’t warm up and then got a little frustrated about my placement.  So, I kept serving one ball after another.  My shoulder started to bother me a bit, but I kept at it.  Bottom line is I ended up messing up my right shoulder.  Now I have to be very careful throwing a ball or doing anything that requires me to rotate my arm above my head.

It didn’t cross my mind that I needed to be careful swinging a bat!  However, yesterday I ended up on medication and spread out on the couch.  Both of my shoulders were causing me pain.  They are slightly better this morning, but I’m walking around like a stiff board in order not to move them very much.

I do want to give a shout for our man Craig Lewis.  He had a very good showing in the Dauphiné Libéré coming home 24th overall.  That was ahead of some of the stage winners.

Cyclingnews.com has changed up their site again.  It will take me a little to get used to it, but my initial response is that it is an improvement.  They still have some formating issues to clean up.

Last week, Kirk Flinte mentioned on his blog that the DVD’s of the documentary on George Hincapie would be available within five to ten days.  I get the feeling that we may find them ready for purchase this week.  Should be an interesting watch.

Can you believe that the Tour de France is less than a month away?  Wow.  There will certainly be some interesting story lines for this one.  I’m looking forward to it.

Over the mountain and through the wind

Nothing unusual for today’s post. Last night I went out on a ride by myself that started at my house and headed out over Paris Mountain, down Old Buncombe, through downtown to Cleveland Park, and then to home.  I made it back just as it started to rain.

I was a little disappointed because I left the house and headed over to the university before going to the mountain.  I wanted to do a lap of the course I will be riding Saturday during the fund raiser.  As I finished the circuit, I pushed what I thought was the lap button on the Garmin.  It was the Start/Stop button.

I didn’t realize I had done that until I was near the top of Paris Mountain.  All the power data of the climb was lost!  I put it out of my mind just to enjoy the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day.

As I started along the back side of the mountain I was very fearful.  It was the first time going down the Furman side since my accident.  To make matters worse, there was a level of fine sand in the turns along the top.  The fun finally started once I got below the sandy turns.

I forgot all about the computer issues as I looked out over northern Greenville county from the top of the mountain.  Out over Travelers Rest there was a thunder storm.  I could see the dark clouds and the wall of rain out in the distance.  There were flashes and the rolling sound of thunder, but it was so far away I had no concerns that it would reach me before I got home.

Old Buncombe introduced me to a headwind.  I saw my teammate Blair heading the other direction.  I envied him because he was enjoying the tailwind.  Finally, I made it through downtown Greenville and to Cleveland Park.

Once there I connected with Chris Hartzler.  We did several laps together.  There were a good number of cyclist out.  Some were just spinning along and others were hammering it pretty hard.  Just as we were finishing up, I saw Kirk Flinte with, I believe, his brother.

A lot of times you can learn riders by the clothing they wear.  It also helps to learn their bike.  However, with Kirk it is a little harder.  He is always showing up with some cool Hincapie clothes that are probably not even on the market yet.

The wind really picked up as I neared home and the temperatures dropped a bit.  I figured the rain would arrive soon.  After taking my bike to the garage, I went inside to change before eating some homemade enchiladas.  As I exited the bedroom, the rains arrived.

What a wonderful feeling to site with happy muscles, eating a delicious meal while nice and dry, and the rain falling outside.  Life is good!

A Twitter Day

It is amazing the things you can learn following your Twitter.com feeds.  There was a thread of events flowing through the Greenville Twitter world yesterday that told a story within the cycling community.  It was kind of cool to see the pieces come together.

It started this morning when I came upon a feed by Tim Jackson of Masi bicycle fame.  This Tweet read, “Hello Greenville. Just passed exit for Paris Mtn… Looks quiet now.”  That got my interest.  Then he followed it up with a Twitpic…

Tim Jackson takes a photo of downtown Greenville

Tim Jackson takes a photo of downtown Greenville

His caption for the photo was “Morning in Greenville.”  Yep, I recognized that view.  So, I sent a reply giving him a welcome to Greenville and wishing him some great riding while he’s here.  I asked him what exactly brought him to our town?

Before I could get a reply, I saw a feed by Kirk Flinte over at Hincapie Sportswear.  He was pointing to his blog post of the day, “Kenda Pro Cycling Team.”  Well, I didn’t put two and two together because I thought Masi sponsored Team Inferno.  What I didn’t know was that Team Inferno is now Kenda Pro Cycling Team.

So, what was the team doing in Greenville?  They were here for their team training camp and to say hello to their clothing sponsor.  A little later this was confirmed when Tim Jackson responded to my question basically telling me what I learned from Kirk’s blog.

However, it didn’t end there because the team came together for some pictures before heading out on a ride.  Kirk was involved in that photo shoot as well.  Which was followed soon after by a shoot with George and Melanie Hincapie as they modeled some of the new denim items by Hincapie Sportswear.

Of course, everyone following George’s feeds for the day knew he was not feeling so well.  Yet, out there he went to get the job done.  I know Kirk hasn’t been feeling so hot either… maybe he is the one who got George sick!

But the Twitter story comes full circle when I see a Tweet by Oliver Blanchard (who does photo work for Hincapie) to Kirk talking about George being sick and the photo shoot.  Then I see the following by Oliver (a prodigious Twitterer, by the way), “Cyclists: I got SMOKED by these guys today while riding up Paris Mountain. Blew by me like I was standing still. http://bit.ly/ssjkZ”  Yep, it was the Kenda boys.

Last I checked, it could be that the Kenda theme continued.  Boyd Johnson put the following in his feed, “9:27 up Paris mountain today. But I was hanging onto a wheel for half of it. 375 watts.” Now, I’m wondering… just whose wheel was he hanging on to?

Could be some more news coming up later today at LowCadence.com.  I have my post op visit today!

Baker’s back – Video of George at AToC

Steve Baker of Hincapie Sportswear stepped away from his blog a bit while out presenting the company’s line at the Amgen Tour of California.  I was hoping for some regular updates, but it sounds like he is pretty busy.  He did get one up earlier today.  You can check it out at Hincapie.com.

Here is some video he took of George Hincapie before the racing started.

Hopefully Steve will get to slow down a bit and send us some more.  I did notice that Kirk Flinte also put up some pictures.  Always good to get a local view of the race.  Thanks for thinking of us, guys.

Riding to the watts

My friend Kirk Flinte threw down the challenge last week when he climbed the Furman side of Paris Mountain in 11:37. I don’t know if I’ll be able to challenge that mark. It is nearly 30 seconds faster than my best time up the winding road. Still, it is worth it to have a goal.

Before I can set beating Kirk as a goal, I have to beat my own personal best up the mountain. Last year I made it to the top in 12:04. I was using a computer to find an average speed that I figured I needed to maintain and tried to hold it up to the top. It wasn’t an exact science and I found it hard to pace myself with speed.

One of the best purchases I have made in understanding how I ride is my Quarq CinQo power meter. It tells me the truth about my ability to move the bike regardless of how I feel. It also gives me steady, real time data that helps me pace myself much more efficiently than with heart rate or speed.

I put it to practice on Tuesday evening. I left home and easily pedaled my way over Altamont from the State Park side. It was neat seeing the various types of riders out on the road — from couples leisurely pedaling along to racer types zipping down the mountain in a tucked position. The best thing? They all waved!

Once to the top I started down. It gave me an idea. Any volunteers to strap my camera to their helmet and follow me down the Furman side? I’m serious. It would be really neat to have on the site. I thought about following in a car, but I don’t think a car could keep up!

Anyway, back to this post…

I weighed myself before leaving. I weighed in at 172 pounds with all my gear on. My bike with tool bag, power meter, and computer weighs in at an even 17 pounds. I left my bottles at the top of the road to lighten things a bit.

My goal was not to go for the fastest time. It was to try to average 300 watts for the entire climb. It wasn’t a matter of thinking I couldn’t do more. It was just I wanted to get a baseline for future attempts. I figured that was a nice round number to start with.

Paris Mountain climb 02.10.2009

Paris Mountain climb 02.10.2009

It was hard at first. I wanted to go much faster in the beginning. Still, I held it at around 300 watts. Obviously, I couldn’t hold it there on the nose and at times I would pop up around 340 or more watts. Turns out the hardest spots were where there was a flatter grade. I had to drastically increase my cadence to bring the watts up to 300.

Another time I paused just enough to reach down and tighten my shoe. If you look at the graph you can see the spot about half way up where the cadence and power drops. A couple of other times I saw my wattage slip and I reacted sending the numbers up into the 400 range. Finally, on The Wall, I just let it go. I had no idea what watts I was getting because I wasn’t looking at the computer. I figured I would get what I would get and I’d find out later.

Turns out on that last stretch I slowly increased the wattage up to 612 watts. Overall I ended up with a 318 watt average — pretty close to my goal. I wonder how many seconds I lost when I tightened my shoe?

Without any plans for trying to get a good time, I managed to land a 12 minutes and 14 seconds climb (my Garmin said 12:13 – my WKO+ says 12:14). Better yet, once I caught my breath on the way down the other side, I was feeling great. My recovery had me ready to turn around and go try it again!

So, I’m still a ways from Kirk’s time. However, I have a good baseline to build from. It is just a matter of finding the proper pacing up the mountain. In case you are interested, here is the data from the lap.

Duration: 12:14
Work: 233 kJ
TSS: 26.8 (intensity factor 1.146)
Norm Power: 321
VI: 1.01
Pw:HR: 3.48%
Pa:HR: 14.32%
Distance: 2.19 mi
Elevation Gain: 792 ft
Elevation Loss: 9 ft
Grade: 6.8 % (783 ft)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 612 317 watts
Heart Rate: 138 192 182 bpm
Cadence: 8 103 73 rpm
Speed: 2.5 16.3 10.7 mph
Pace 3:40 24:08 5:35 min/mi
Altitude: 1162 1948 1551 ft
Crank Torque: 0 715 379 lb-in

I’m coming to get you, Kirk 🙂

What is your favorite trainer exercise?

There was no opportunity to take advantage of the sun that appeared yesterday, so it was back on the trainer last night.  I had read earlier in the day about Kirk Flinte “bustin’ out the trainer” and a interval plan he was doing.  Got the trainer set up, turned on the TV to the UNC / CofC game, and climbed on board.

I couldn’t remember exactly what Kirk’s plan was and I was too lazy to get off the bike and look it up on the computer, so I just came up with my own that was as close to what I could remember.  I know I can sustain 200 to 250 watts for awhile.  Once I start going over that I wear down.

So, my plan was to spin easy for ten minutes – just to loosen up – then I would bring my power up to between 200 and 250 for five minutes.  At five minutes I would do an all out sprint for ten seconds.  After that I would ease off back to the earlier pace for another five minutes.  Another five minutes of easy spinning (between 80 and 150 watts)  and then I would repeat the whole thing.

I was able to get three of these in during an hour with the final ten minutes being a cool down.  I didn’t push as hard on the sprints as I did last night.  My back is still a little stiff from that one!  My max wattage for the night was 834 watts with my five second peak at 813.  I held the 200 watts pretty well during the five minute sections.  My five minute peak was 239 watts.

Next time I’m going to try Kirk’s plan which comparing the two plans shows I missed it by a mile!  However, I felt like I got a pretty good workout but at the same time I’m ready to go again today.  If I were to do my made up plan again, I would probably up the 5 minute steady wattage a little bit.

What is your favorite trainer exercise?  I’m up to giving it a try.  Just make sure it is a real one and not just something you have designed to kill me!

Backs and blogs

Last night was another trainer night. I was a little bit motivated after reading the latest e-mail from TrainRight where Chris Carmichael talks about Lance Armstrong being ahead of schedule with his training for the upcoming season. Yeah, like jaw dropping ready!

Actually, it is just the difference between an elite international pro rider and a category 4 club rider. Here is a typical training day for the Astana rider:

Day 3: 4 hours at endurance pace staying below 315watts, include 1hr at Tempo power, 350-380watts, low pedal cadence during Tempo (60-70rpm).

One hour at 350 to 380 watts… that ain’t happening with my body! However, I’m not riding in the Tour de France either. So, I take the encouragement out of the fact that with proper training, Armstrong (according to Carmichael) has been able to improve his overall fitness by 25 watts since an earlier test last year. It is all relative.

So, on the trainer I climbed. The plan was to ride easy for 10 to 15 minutes and then give it a sustained 20 minute push trying to stay over 250 watts. Then I would just spin out the rest of the hour. After a short break I would come back to spin for 5 minutes intervals and then do an all out sprint for 20 seconds. 30 minutes later, I would call it a night.

Well, I didn’t quite make the steady 250 watts though I was able to average close to it. On the sprints in the final session I was pleased to see I was able to get close to 1000 watts on the first several tries. Then my legs started going on me and I was just topping 800.

I think I could have gotten more except my trainer wanted to start taking off! One thing about sprinting on a trainer is that you don’t have much lateral motion with the bike. It remains pretty stiff and upright. This morning I’m feeling it! My lower back is pretty sore.

Well, that is where the “back” comes from. What about the “blogs?” Well, if you haven’t heard anywhere else, there are now some blogs available over at Hincapie.com. I enjoy every chance to read what other cyclists are doing. There you’ll find a link to George’s blog over at GeorgeHincapie.com. There are also blogs from some of the staff and riders at Hincapie Sports.

I was especially attracted to the Training blog. Here’s to hoping that they will keep things going. I’ve seen a lot of blogs start up and then fade away. Some have only gotten one entry up (are you reading this, Alder?) and I would really enjoy reading more.

Thanks, Kirk, for getting things up and going over there. Good luck on your own blog. I too have learned the saddle bag lesson!