Category: Blog

Winter End Musings – Where do we go from here?

It’s been a long few years since I ended up returning to work as a “mere employee” and having to waste a lot of time commuting and then sitting at at desk in an office with 26 male employoees and one toilet between us. Since most of them are typical fast-food survivors and need to spend a good deal of time squeezing out toxic waste byproducts while playing on their phones, it’s somewhat difficult to stay properly hydrated.

If you can’t figure out what the connection is, let me know in a message and I’ll spell it out for you.

Fighting the results of my own toxic byproducts of training hard has become a real challenge. Enough so that my training is seriously impacted. Gone are the days of 10 days on and 1 day off.

Learning how to ride a mountain bike while overcoming the delusions of my youth that plague me has been a super difficult challenge as well. My memories of 30 years ago cruising along at 28 MPH on an 18 lb bike with 700 x 20 slicks confound me as I struggle to stay over 15 MPH on my 30 pound full suspension bike. Add in the inverted gravity response to cornering on loose gravel. It’s tough. But it’s part of the game when you’re a certified mountain bike coach for a local high school team.

I also get to spend a lot of time on a trainer, with the bad weather, or should I say typical Utah late winter weather?

I’ve been on the treadmill a lot, with various levels of incline, and overall it’s been okay, though not sustainable at heavy loads right now. I was using an Adidas Footpod and just recently changed to a Wahoo Tickr Run which provides the same data from a chest strap. So far I’ve liked it and it’s a bit more accurate than the pod, which is a mystery to me.

And on top of it all, I’ve been dreaming about Quandary. Remember my favorite Colorado Fourteener that I’ve ascended in every month of the year? I kind of do. I was thinking all winter of going out there to do it, but it’s been a bad weather and wind magnet all winter long. This shot is just an example. I saw days with > 60 MPH winds and way below 0 F.

Suddenly we get this:

Quandary Summit
Quandary Treeline

What is a sort-of retired, but not willing to give it up Skyrunner to do?

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Snowshoe Hike in New Snow

Saturday Jan 21, 2017

It snowed last night, and my plan was to head up American Fork Canyon to Tibble Fork Reservoir and do some longer hill repeats. The road was unplowed and if not for the construction trucks heading up and down for the dam repair project, there wouldn’t even be a path. Fortunately I managed to get my SUV up to the lake parking and took off up the trail.

Even snowmobiles hadn’t made it up yet in any great numbers so the trail was really loose, even in the one snowmobile track there. I kept sliding out of the track and up to my knees. No running today. So I quick switched out of my New Balance Leadville shoes and Kahtoola Microspikes and into my Salomon S-Lap X-Alp Carbon and my backpacking snowshoes. Yeah, you don’t run in backpacking snowshoes.

It was “smooth” going to say the least. It was good work heading up the hill and since I was way off on getting anything on Strava [Strava for this report HERE] I just forked into Granite Flats campground to check out the path up the ridge of Box Elder Peak that I could see in previous runs up here. I really want to do that. Not today though. The path was narrow and not tracked out at all. Sank up to my knees and tipped into the creek bottom, even on snowshoes.

I ran into some 12 year old Boy Scouts hauling sleds down toward the parking lot. They were a bit miserable what with the heavy snow and all. Seriously over 2′ up here. Amazing good fun digging snow caves and hauling sleds. Great to see the young ones hard at work up here.

On the way downhill I met another runner heading up in smaller, lighter, faster snowshoes. He had come up planning on running just as I had, but had a backup plan handy (snowshoes) and was going to make a 2 hour workout his new plan for the day.

In spite of the storm it was actually quite warm, around 24F. I wore my Saxx Subzero wind front boxers, Underarmour windstopper tights, TNF base layer, and Pearl Izumi hybrid softshell fleece hoodie. I got in 2.5 miles in a decent, but certainly not fast time. Overall, great fun in a beautiful setting. I got in a rather gentle workout, and over the previous 7 days nearly 20 miles.


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Dirt Road Hill Laps in Saint George Utah

Sunday, Jan 15 2017

While on a road trip to Las Vegas for a gymnastics competition for my daughter, I had a few hours to kill early Sunday morning in Saint George Utah. The weather was perfect, about 40F and right at the break of dawn I got out to the trailhead, the top of the dirt road behind the condos at the Green Valley Race Loops (MTB race course}.

Mountain biking Bearclaw Poppy at Saint George Utah

I’ve been on this course a number of times, prerunning the course as a NICA certified Level 2 High School Mountain Bike coach, and then riding the local trails for fun and adventure. It’s a blast out there. I will someday run the backcountry trails, but today I needed to do some hill repeats.

From the top of the hill at the condo, down to the lowest section of road is a shorter hill, then the long hill up to the water tank at the walk-over gate to Bearclaw Poppy. I went out and back twice for a total of 5.4 miles and 853 ft of vertical. [Strava]

These are really long hill laps for most normal hill repeat training, but it was hard work to keep the pace up for so long. Much like a Vertical K would be.


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Hill Repeats Up Silver Fork Road

Monday January 16, 2017

After my great adventure just the day before running Long Hill Repeats at Saint George, Utah, I decided to do some more. This time up American Fork Canyon, on the Tibble Fork Reservoir side of the canyon, from the parking up toward the gate near the Granite Flats Horse Trailer parking. I’ve done this repeat sequence before a few times. Run from the gate at the parking lot to the gate at the fork to Granite Flats.

That’s right, 10F. Dang cold compared to 24 hours prior in Saint George

I wore my New Balance Leadville shoes, and my Kahtoola Microspikes. It was colder than yesterday by about 30 degrees. Yes. 10F was the temperature. It’s difficult to judge how warm or cold you might be under those conditions. When running downhill you have to flip up your hood or otherwise bundle up, and running uphill, unzip a bit to let the heat escape.

Running shoes by New Balance. Microspikes by Kahtoola

Three laps is a bit over 5 miles and that’s what I normally do up here with the time I have. That gives me almost a thousand feet of vertical and a pretty good workout. I wore softshell fleece pants by Sporthill with Saxx boxer briefs and Columbia baselayers. I wore a Pearl Izumi softshell hoodie and Columbia vest. One nice addition to my collection is an Icebug buff that kept the lower part of my face warm.

I got in 5.2 miles and got my Strava PR for the first uphill segment. [STRAVA]


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VK on the Stairmaster Stepmill

Tuesday January 17, 2017

After doing long hill repeat workouts two days in a row, I decided to mix it up with non-running. That pretty much leaves the Stairmaster Stepmill. An hour VK on the stepmill requires that I go at 85 steps per minute for an hour.

From my calculator HERE

Time: 60:00
Steps/Minute: 85
Vertical Feet: 3400.00
Miles: 0.72
Average MPH: 0.724
Average Pace: 82:49
Vertical/Hour: 3400.00′
Vertical/Minute: 56.67′
VAM: 1036.3

Anything over 1000 VAM is better than an hour VK (by definition, meaning that 1000 meters is a kilometer, and an hour is 60 minutes – DOH!)

Oh, don’t forget I was wearing a 12 lb vest too

Just let me tell you. It’s dang tough. I don’t recommend this to anyone of reasonably normal sanity. That being said, and hour VK is a totally admirable goal. [ Heart rate on STRAVA ]

Shots of the console readout after the workout

BTW: I was wearing a 12 lb weighted vest. Just sayin’


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Catching Up With Some Stats

In January I pre-tested working on a new goal. I started by trying to do the rough equivalent of 3 x 1.5 VK’s a week on the incline treadmill while I build up my strength. Some of them I had been doing with a 12 lb weighted vest. I should probably also work my way up to a 25 lb backpack.

[Weighted Backpack Treadmill Training Guide]

To be honest, it’s a pretty hefty expenditure of energy. It’s apparently not recoverable while also getting in 100 mile weeks on the Cycle Trainer and outdoor mountain bike riding.


1.5 x VK = > 4.66 mi and > 4921′

 Following screenshots from my Wahoo Fitness App, connected to my Adidas Foot Pod

The footpod calibrates itself whenever I run outside with the GPS on. It’s usually off a bit. I’m not terribly keen on it, but it’s what I have that connects between my phone and foot.


Above are examples of the type of stats I accumulate from my workout. It’s pretty strenuous, and I am not able to do it completely hands-free at this point.

Where did I get the idea to do 4.5 x VK in a week?

Let’s examine the details about what a VK means. A VK is about 1000 meters of vertical gain over the course of about 5k of distance. Multiply that by 1.5 for the daily goals and you get 4.66 mi with 4921′ of vertical gain per workout.

Multiply that by 3 and over the course of the week you get in a bit less than 15 miles and a bit less than 15,000 vertical feet.

A well-known author on mountain fitness has expressed that training goals in the 15,000′ per week range put you in an elite group of successful mountain sports folks, and I thought that sounded pretty cool. When I was training for Elbrus Race 2010 and 2013 I was doing between 10k and 15k per week regularly so it sounded about right.

Example stats from a recent trainer ride showing energy expenditure

Sadly, my position as a certified Mountain Bike Coach requires me to be able to ride with my team for most training sessions, which requires me to maintain a high level of riding fitness. So right now I am not able to sustain that level of training in the time period I have.

By time period I have, I mean that I only have about 90 minutes per day average to complete this workout, so I have to maintain a speed that gets my vertical in while also getting in my approximate VK simulated workout.

I pretty much took February off from the treadmill and just recently added in Stairmaster workouts to at least break the monotony of sitting on a trainer for 90 minutes per day.

I did some math and think I have an idea of how to at least get in the vertical, if not the miles. I’ll report back here when I get that tested out.

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Indoor Training TMI – February 25th Edition

I’ve been on the trainer a lot this past season. I got on right around the end of the Utah League NICA High School Mountain Bike Racing season. I did a few outside rides here along the Wasatch Front, weather permitting. I’ve also been to St. George a few times, and out to Moab once. That’s a whole ‘nuther story. For sure.

Anyway.

One thing I think makes a big difference is a two-bolt seat-post. Yep. Two bolts. Why?



There’s a big difference IMHO between sitting on a trainer in the garage, and riding outside. For one thing, you have a tendency to not balance your weight on your feet with your butt up off the saddle, even a few millimeters, enough to get that precious groin blood flowing again. For another, you’re not increasing and decreasing your inclination (going up and down rolling hills) which also moves you around on your saddle some.

With a two-bolt seatpost and a properly-sized allen wrench handy, you can adjust your seat angle on-the-fly. 



Yep. While sitting on your trainer you can reach down between your legs, or around behind your butt, insert the wrench, and wiggle it a little bit in and out to get the right angle for your poor suffering groin and butt.

Tightening a screw brings that part of the saddle down, and loosening it allows it to upward. It works in conjunction with the opposite screw.

As an example, to bring the nose of the saddle down, loosen the rear bolt, and  tighten the front bolt. Does that make sense?

I’ve discovered for myself that I have to pause pedaling to work on the front bolt, but can do the rear bolt while riding. 

I’ve noticed slight differences in angles with various cycling bibs I wear for indoor training. I’ve also notice a slight difference in the fore-aft positioning of the saddle. And of course, I’ve noticed a big difference when I use a slightly higher front tire stabilizer slot.

Maybe I’m just really picky?

If you’re spending 6+ hours a week on an indoor trainer, (in my case a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with the Inride power meter sender) you’ll be much happier with a well-adjusted seat.

Stay tuned for some information about the saddle I chose for my indoor trainer too.

Below: screenshots from my Kurt Kinetic Fit App, receiving data from my Kurt Inride sender on my Kurt Road Machine trainer, my Wahoo Blue SC (speed cadence) sender on my bike, and my Suunto Smart heart rate sender. What a mashup! Yes, it works great. I’ll let you in on how I got them all to play nicey-nicey here in the next few weeks if you can be patient.

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Fall 2017 Clearance on Hikercize Program Announced

http://hikercize.com/join-the-hikercize-program/ – get the world’s foremost Hiking Fitness Training Program for only $5 for the rest of 2017, and I’ll send you a free copy of my Amazon Best-Selling
“Summit Success: Training for Hiking” and a handful of other sweet bonuses.

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Diamondback Recoil Upgrade – Air Shock

Last year, 2016, my son started mountain bike racing. Previously he’d done road racing with the FFKR jr. devo team up in Salt Lake City. He’d attended a couple of their training camps and got interested in cyclocross (CX) and even took state points leader in his age group in the 2015 fall racing season.

Dallin at the awards banquet for 2015 UTCX

For 2016 he decided to race Mountain Bike at the Lone Peak High School registered with the Utah High School Cycling League and NICA. I decided to become a NICA certified coach, and passed the requirements for the Ride Leader position. This has been upgraded to Level Two Coach for 2017. More on that later though.

The team was sponsored by Fezarri and we decided to get him a Wasatch Peak hardtail at the team discount. I found a really good deal on a Diamondback Recoil full suspension bike and ordered it. It
was heavy, somewhat clunky, but it would get the job done.

Diamondback Recoil 27.5

Now, I’d been a roadie for a good 40 years. Seriously. No kidding. In my wild teen years in California I’d hooked up with a friend who introduced me to sweet light brazed lug double butted tube construction. I was hooked. Over the years I ended up as a bicycle commuter, hitting 150 mile weeks regularly. So now this big knobby tire thing. Argh!

Pretty soon after getting it, even on the light duty trails we ran with the beginner team I was in charge of, it became apparent that at my weight the rear spring, a coil-over design similar to a dirt bike but without the hydraulics, wasn’t working out as nicely as I’d hoped.

Spring Coil – stock on Diamondback Recoil

I dug around on Amazon and found an air shock replacement from Asia that was way less than the “American” counterparts that you usually think of when imagining the perfect rear air suspension on a mountain bike. I won’t name names. Like less than $80. The ratings for the DNM Rear Air Shock were good, so I measured my spring shock to verify the fit and ordered it.

The inner diameter and width of the supplied bushings was slightly off, so I pressed them out (tough, but doable with a clamp and threaded hex head bolt) and used the Diamondback bushings, which fit perfectly in the shocks.

The hardest part was holding the rear triangle up in place while holding the end of the shock in place, while threading the bolt through while keeping the bushing centered. Alone. Fortunately I had a good Bikehand Pro Mechanic Bike Stand to hold the bike in place at waist level while working on it.

The DNM shock included a fairly readable manual to let you know what pressures to load the main and rebound cylinders with, and I messed around with it for about a half hour to get the bike to settle in at the right pressure.

Total time for this was about 3 hours, while answering the phone, checking email, verifying a thing or two on Youtube, etc. You could probably do it in an hour or less without the messing about.

NEXT: Derailleur replacement. Drat.


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Training Program Adjustment Phase Explained – Hikercize

One thing a lot of canned training programs skip or gloss over is the “Adjustment Phase” which is one short cycle, 3 to 6 weeks, during which you adjust from Non-Training Life to Training Life.

Check out the video for more, and how we address this issue in Hikercize at http://hikercize.com/take-the-challenge

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