FTP: One

Got out the Argonaut “space bike” last night with the new Garmin Vector pedals and rolled out for a warm-up and a 20-minute functional threshold power (FTP) test–my first one.

While I would have preferred a good, long, flat course, I made do with the vagaries of the neighborhood 2.5-mile loop and the unseasonably cool wind that whipped through the neighborhood ahead of the cool front moving through. No rain, just clouds and wind.

The warm-up was uneventful, excepting a bit of trepidation about the coming effort. In the past, I have never felt REALLY good about sustained efforts on the bike. I started too fast and faded, or I started too slow and never felt like I went ALL OUT. Time-trialing was never my forte. (Heck, NOTHING was really my forte.)

The ride was pretty good. I started out and felt like I maintained a good pedaling effort. Fat and slow is the way to go, right? Maintaining power on the one real downhill was a pain, but I figured the subsequent uphill and the time out of the saddle made up for it in the average. “Just keep pedaling” was the mantra of the day, and generally, I did.

So now, I know just HOW FAT and HOW SLOW I really am. And believe me, I am BOTH.

18.6 mph over 20 minutes, yielding an FTP of 151 watts. That translates to a whopping 1.36 watts per kg. A reasonably-competent Cat 4 is around 3.5 W/kg. I have a LONG way to go.

And I LOOK IT, too:

Yes, I WOULD like an ambulance, please.

Yes, I WOULD like an ambulance, please.

Checkpoint: Week ONE

Set a goal to ride 5 of 7 days, this week, and DIDN’T make it. But I learned a lesson about late afternoon thunderstorms and procrastination. Monday night and Tuesday night were a wash…the thunderstorms set in and stayed resident until bedtime. I figured it would be okay; I’d make it up at the end of the week. Wednesday and Thursday were good, but then Friday night, I got home with lots to do…eat supper, get my son from the gym…I decided I’d ride with lights, after supper. Of course, the thunderstorm set in during supper. So, I missed my goal because of ONE night of procrastination. Basically, RIDE WHEN YOU CAN, you may not get another chance.

I DID ride four days, this week, a total of 42.8 miles over 3 hours, 17 minutes. Pretty slow, but HEY, it’s SOMETHING after a whole LOT of NOTHING.

I will be starting some power-based training today, beginning with an FTP test. I’ll be doing Bill Darrah’s abbreviated 20-min test, using a 95% of the average wattage over the 20 mins. This will, hopefully, establish the first baseline against which I can compare future tests, every four weeks or so. I will, additionally, be completing 1-hour FTP testing on occasion, as it is what I am most comfortable with and can use to check FTP derived by the shorter test. To be honest, though, I don’t exactly relish the idea of a 1-hour full-effort test right now. Yeah, I’m still lazy.

I am still fat, too, tipping the scales at 245.0 this morning. Having been so successful with my reduced-carbohydrate diet over the past year, I have turned up the burners on it and am back to an initial-phase diet (<25g carbohydrates per day). I am hoping that my natural weight plateau at 240 pounds will be passed through the combination of diet and increased exercise, though I must admit to some fear concerning the future of my weight and my performance on the bike. When I make it to Six Gap, next year, will I be able to maintain the low-carbohydrate diet and still ride? I don't think I want to fall back to a diet of energy drinks and gel, but riding with a pocket full of venison jerky seems a little...bizarre. Anyone have any suggestions?

Older, Fatter, Assier…but less “racing” and “team”

Did it. Got back on the bike this weekend after promising myself I’d do it “soon” for months. Ugh. Did it on a fixed-gear, too. Double-ugh.

Over the past year, I fell into trying a low-carbohydrate diet. I’d been the asshole telling everyone that it “is simply a reduced-calorie diet” and that “it just isn’t working for the reasons you think it is.” Reading a bit of the Atkins books in the bookstore didn’t help; the books are 99% motivational speeches with very little SCIENCE and DIET in them. It’s the Norman Vincent Peale version of dietary guides, and I DON’T need a sermon, I need WEIGHT-LOSS.

Then, last October, I tried it. And it worked. Dammit.

20 pounds in 4 months or so, then another plateau after losing 30 pounds. I backed off a bit, thinking I’d take a break, then start another run. I gained 5 pounds. So, I tightened up a bit, but dropped the idea that I could balance a “normal” diet with weight maintenance. Today, I’m still at that 30-pound loss, holding steady at 240 and looking hard at another press to start weight loss again with an exercise program. So, that’s where THIS thing comes in:

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Yeah, it’s a fixie. Hipster, too. Look at all that Celeste Green. And WHAT is up with that stem angle?

The way I figure it, a fixie is the best thing in the world to make you do ONE thing: pedal. You’re going to pedal a LOT. An awful lot. And what do I need to do more than that? It’s the bike that makes downhills a nightmare that no coasting cyclist can understand. My membership card in “Fat Guys with Good Wheels” means nothing on the fixie. I can shortcut MONTHS of pre-training preparation with a couple weeks riding fixie-alone, right?

Hah.

This emasculating mess of a bike beat my ass for a solid 6 miles on Saturday. Then, it did it again on Sunday. My weekend total, a whopping 14.4 miles.

Yes, I am a fat piece of crap, but even I’m not convinced that 14.4 miles on a weekend is anything to be particularly proud of. But tell that to the A in F.A.R.T. My butt was absolutely chewed UP over the course of this blip on the map. Raw, nasty, swollen streaks from tip to taint on both sides.

My chamois is good. Queen Helene’s Cocoa Butter Cream was well-applied. But the indignity of beginner-butt was demanded in payment for my long absence from the saddle. So here I sit, anti-bacterialized, be-creamed and sore whilst waiting 48 hours for the next installment. And then, to add insult to injury, I have responded to the adjurations of my friends to put the bike out of it’s misery (It’s NOT called “sit-up-and-beg geometry,” Tim. And no, Andy, puppies are NOT dying every moment.) and flip the stem over. And now I can look at it and wonder at my sanity while nursing my tender hinterlands.

Bianchi Pista with Flat Stem

Still, I wish I could get back out, today. And that…that DESIRE…is a good thing.