Monday, September 29, 2008

Ride & Climb 5 Canyons

I've been working out the logistics for my friend Trent's birthday challenge, which is to do a human-powered five canyon day, featuring riding and climbing. Trent's great at coming up with stuff like this. He once linked a bunch of desert towers by bike in Canyonlands. This time, his idea was to ride all of our local canyons and climb a 5.12 in each one. Actually, there aren't 5.12s in every canyon, so the plan is to ride all of the canyons that have 5.12s: City Creek, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, Ferguson, and Little Cottonwood. I said I'd come along for support and, since Trent hadn't done all the routes on the agenda, I've been scouting for him. Here's the plan:

Ride from Trent's house in the avenues to Little Cottonwood Canyon, where we'll climb Cool Your Jets, 5.12a

Next, we'll cruise over to Ferguson Canyon, where Condor awaits.

This finishes the granite portion of the day. We'll then take a short ride up Big Cottonwood Canyon to feast on some quartzite.

Highlander, while short, is probably the best route of the day.

Because there aren't any recorded 5.12s in Mill Creek, we'll head up its northern flank on to Grandeur Peak to a scruffy, seldom visited limestone crag called The Reef. Its one 5.12a, Leviathan, is quite powerful for the grade and may provide the day's crux.

Finally, we'll ride over to City Creek Canyon and finish things up at the Shoreline Crag, with another powerful offering, Bat Cave. Shoreline is a steep conglomerate crag, so we'll add another unique rock type to our day.

I haven't done 5 5.12s in a day in quite some time. Trent hasn't ridden his bike this far in quite some time, especially considering the elevation gain. We'll also be adding 3 hours or so of uhill/downhill hiking and, of course, carrying our stuff.

Should be fun.

pic: Andrew Burr shot of Highlander. Check out more at

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Big Nasty

Romney and I dusted off the tandem and rode the Moab Century Tour last weekend. We hadn't ridden it since Ebbett's Pass over the July 4th weekend as it's been pretty hot and Lisa is a staunch fair weather rider. The ride is called "The Big Nasty" in honor of the opening 4,000' ascent into the La Sal mountains. Our 40-pound monster is no nimble climbing machine, so it seemed like the perfect century for us to start with.

We rolled out with our friend Jeff on a perfect Sat morning. The forecast of rain seemed exaggerated. We lost Jeff after registering, which didn't matter much as the first 30 miles were mainly uphill and we had no designs about keeping up with anyone reasonably fit on a standard bike.

The ride turned out to be a lot harder for me than my off-the-couch wife. The ascent went well, as did the long descent into Castle Valley where we pulled pretty much anyone that responded quick enough to get into our draft. The monster may be tough to coax uphill be she descends like a meteor. On the slight angle of Castle Valley we were spun out in our largest gear the entire time.

At the bottom of the valley we had the choice of turning left for a quick and easy 65 miles or right for the full 102-m century. My off-the-couch partner asked "what else are we going to do?" and right I turned.

My over-exuberate pulls in the decided not-rainy weather on this long, rolling, and mainly uphill stretch got the best of me. I overheated and finally allowed a few other riders to take on the wind for the ride to the turnaround.

At the turnaround, a lot of riders were struggling with the heat. It had gone from cool to hot quite quickly. Luckily, it wasn't a race and we could chill in the shade until we felt like riding back. I was still fairly miserable--though not nearly as bad as many of the riders we were passing--until we got a short squall of rain. After this, we wielded the tandem's power by passing scores of riders struggling in the wind on the flat-ish ride back to the start.

It was a great training day. I was cooked. Lisa, on the other hand, felt great and began wondering whether she had found her forte in long endurance events. Looks like they're will be more of these in our future.

The Big Nasty is part of the Moab Skinny Tire Festival. Of the 900-some-odd participants, most opted for one of the four variations that weren't the full century. They pretty much have an option for any fitness level, all with stunning views throughout. As a century, most people said it was harder than it looked on paper. It's not the Death Ride, but I heard one woman who had just finished the Triple Bypass (with over 10,000' of climbing) saying "this is hard!" As far as centuries go, it's got to be one of the better ones.

Here's the web site.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This word still doesn't show up in the dictionary, yet, it's probably the most important technical term in physical training. Lack of adherence to the principles of periodizational training means that your training program ends in one of two ways: plateau or injury.

Periodizational training is simply breaking up a training program into targeted blocks of time where you focus on one aspect of training. It can be fairly straight forward when training for one sport. When training for multiple sports at one time it becomes tricky. This, hopefully, is my forte. At least it should be by now. The aim of this cycle is to put my theories to the test.

A cycle of training can be as short as two weeks and of an indefinite length. Most do not exceed one year, though coaches will make up loose programs for athletes to progress over the years. Over the last decade all of my cycles have been short. In the 90s, when I was climbing pretty much full time, I'd often set up cycles that took up most of a year. That's what I'm attempting to do here. This will be a loose format--so it can be amended based on how real life is going--but it provides a structure so that my training has a purpose. The end of this cycle will be November, 2009, to target my birthday challenge next year.

Sticking to a training program is hard for any weekend warrior that likes to do various sports. This is because with limited time, and many activities, it's so much easier just to do whatever sounds fun at the moment. In general, this is how I roll. However, in order to remain passionate about any endeavor it's good to make some amount of progress. I'm not one who cares much about results. But I do care about experience. Increasing your level at an activity provides you with the ability to create new experiences. For example, I've always wanted to climb the Eiger. I could do this now but if I'm going to spend the time, effort, and money it will take I'd like to make an attempt that will be meaningful. The list of routes that would fit this bill will require me to climb hard 5.12 in an alpine environment over and over, quickly. I'm not up to that at the moment, and only some focused training will get me there. So, while that's not the end goal of this training program, it's one of the carrots that will help me stick to it. I'm not getting any younger. Some of the things on the "always wanted to do" list need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Here is an overview of my training blocks. I'll go into more depth about what these mean later. For those of you who've read the 90x book, some of this will look familiar. We designed the X on strict periodizational principles. These often mean that you get worse before you get better. During our initial test group I had to fight for this because people were doing worse at various points. I got my way when Tony backed me up, and we were pretty happy with ourselves when performance began to skyrocket during the third block.

These are macro cycles. There will be shorter more targeted cycles within them. Each shorter block consists of an adaptive phase, a growth phase, and a recovery phase.

Oct, Nov - Foundation - Improving the base

This will be a mini cycle, with short hypertrophy and power segments. The base aerobic foundation is strong but certain aspects are weak. I need to train these in order to train them, if that makes sense. There will be some big days during this period as well.

Dec, Jan, Feb - Hypertrophy/Power - Increasing absolute strength

What limits most weekend warriors is their inability to step away from their sport and train. Only increases in absolute strength lead to dramatic increases in performance (provided technique is already sound). These increases in strength can then be molded into performance.

late Feb to early April - Power-endurance

Teaches the body how to use its newly developed strength over time.

April - May - Performance Round 1

We're traveling in April, so this period will be all playing. This reprogram engrams (neuromuscular patterns) to be efficient.

June - October - The Weekend Warrior Cycle

With the foundation solid, this period will feature short training cycles towards targeted goals. It will mix energy systems trained and targeted to be sports specific. For example, training power for climbing while training aerobically for the bike. The idea is to peak at different times for different things based on the calendar.

pic: The Eiger, dangling on a stick

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Training Program: Walking the Talk

Fall is the time of year where I usually combine my summer aerobic fitness with a more power oriented training cycle to build up for a birthday challenge. This year is going to be a little different. Instead of a short cycle I'm going to test my training knowledge but creating a program to excel at multiple (non-related) sports over the coming year. Call it planned weekend warrior-ing, if you will.

The focus of this training plan will be to excel at the sports I enjoy without needing to spend all of my free time training. I still plan to be a attentive husband, see my friends, play with the dogs, enjoy eating in restaurants, beers with the boys, see shows, cinema, operas, and travel. I plan to have fun because, if it's not fun than what's the point?

Of course I won't do any of these things at my highest level. You can't concurrently train for, say, cycling and climbing and be your best at both. They require completely opposite physiques. But you can train to do them both at a high level. My plan is to concurrently increase my current level at both power and endurance climbing, power and endurance cycling, endurance running, and my technical ability at skiing (no big task here, btw) over the coming year. And I plan to do it with an approachable training program that can be adopted by others.

My hope is that this little experiment will be something that can be used by anyone desiring to improve their level as a weekend warrior athlete. And, of course, it'll be another new personal odyssey. It's all about the journey.

pic: training program objective #1 - the social calendar stays intact.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Birthday Challenge Thoughts

It hasn't been much of an athletic year but it's time to start thinking about a challenge. My new page is up. It's still in the works, so suggestions are encouraged.

Birthday Challenge 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Tao of Running

sunset over SLC

It seems I'm finally able to run again pain free. Last week, the dogs (Beata and Copper, who is just hangin’ out with us for a bit) and I ran up Grandeur Peak. It was my second run of the year. My first, which was a race, set my recovery back a bit. Today, after my third, I feel that I may be able to add running back into my repertoire.

Running is the most love or hate sport that I know. Most of the people I know who call themselves runners have a type of mania. These people live and breathe running. They hang out in running stores, read running books, talk about running, and go crazy when they can’t run.
varmits on the summit

I’m not like that at all. I’ve run most of my life. There are occasions when I love it but often, especially running on pavement, where I don’t enjoy it at all. But I do like covering a lot of ground out in nature and this, more than anything, is why I run. I mountain bike for pretty much the same reason. On a bike I can cover more ground in a day but running allows me to get places where I can’t go in the bike. When I throw a little climbing into the mix I can cover a lot of somewhat technical terrain in very little time.

From my house I can head out and tick a ridge or handful of summits after a full day of work. In an hour or so I can get somewhere I’m very unlikely to see another person. It’s magic. It’s my church. The Tao of why I run. At least that’s how runners might describe it. For me, it’s just good fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Maybe We Need A Senior's Tour

The return of the Texan is getting more press than the presidential race. Not only that, it seems to have prompted a slew of possible comebacks. Landis, Chechu, Beloki, Boogerd. Even Ullrich isn't saying never. Next year's peloton is shaping up to look like we're back in the 90s. Maybe Festina will get back in the fray. And what about ex-DSs? I miss Manolo Saiz. "Venga!"

Here's an article on Beloki, Boogerd, and Ullrich.

But, really, just what is on Lance's mind? This is the question everyone wants to know. This article covers the topic in depth and provides a lot of links.

It's all fairly strange. Perhaps not as strange as our election, but strange indeed. Above is a pic of Lance in a race yesteray. I'm not saying that guy next to him can't ride, but he looks like a guy out for a Sunday stroll around the park. And he looks nothing at all like Alberto Contador. Big Tex has a long long way to go.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Lance Chronicles

As most of my friends' "cycling friend" I've been asked a lot about the Texan's big return. I'll comment further on but, in general, I'm psyched. I've already bet a couple bottles of bourbon with Josh and Reed that he never lines up for the Tour. This is based on athletic precedent. I don't see Armstrong playing Ali and getting beat up by Trevor Berbick. If he can't win he won't race. I hope I lose, as seeing him, Basso, Contador et al next would be fantastic. Landis should also sign with an international squad. Even Ullrich has joked about his return but, um, I don't think so. He wasn't that motivated when he was young. But the more the merrier. Lance will bring a lot of money, coverage, and enthusiasm, and all will be good for the sport.

At 37, Lance isn't too old. It's a question of motivation. He sounds psyched now but let's see how that plays out over the winter. He's sacrificing a pretty good life and this, historically, has not gone well for athletes.

Here is the Vanity Fair article announcing his comeback.

The dirt is already flying:

David Walsh's perspective sounds like pretty straight talk to me.

Some of the French authorities.

Contador is gracious. And, oddly enough, we already see a lie in the VF piece. LA states that Bruyneel will be his DS, but Bruyneel hadn't even heard of the plan.

As is most of the peloton.

When it all comes down to it, this is about training and motivation. I see how Armstrong misses the template; the challenge. Now he has a new template to both contemplate and then test. From an athletic perspective, this is what it's all about. The training. Lance won all those tours by training harder than everyone else. Those long hours suffering anonymously in the middle on nowhere when the weather's bad and you just know that you competitors are all in bed or at the pub are pretty much the most meaningful times in any athletes career. If you don't love those times than you aren't a champion. I think Big Tex revels in them.

This is the essence of all of this, at least from my perspective.

“Then Leadville, this kind of obscure bike race, totally kick-started my engine. For me it’s always been about the process.… The process of getting there is the best part. You start the season a little out of shape, a little heavy. You get in better shape. You lose some weight. I mean you’re just crafting this perfect program. For several weeks I [had] trained [for Leadville] and went riding by myself. Obviously beautiful territory and fresh air, just feeling fit, losing weight, getting strong—living a very healthy lifestyle. I thought, This might be fun to try again.”

Monday, September 08, 2008

Charging Like Madmen

The Eagles' strength and conditioning coach is a big advocate of P90X. He talked to Tony after yesterday's season opener, after the Eagles laid a can of whoop-ass on the Rams.

Just got off the phone with Rick B. He gave half the team our recovery formula at half time. The Rams were bonking and the Eagles who drank our stuff were charging like madmen in the heat. McNabb threw for over 300 yards and Rick is convinced that he's been using the X (He won't admit to it) because he's never been this lean coming into the season. Rick told me point blank that P90X played a roll in this win today. Is that crazy or what???

Here's an article on why Recovery Formula works.

Here are Akers' stats from yesterday.

On Sep 7, 2008, at 2:28 PM, Horton Tony wrote:

The Eagles capped the 11-play, 82-yard drive (6 minutes, 20 seconds) with Akers' PAT and led 14-0 withi 1:53 to go in the quarter.

Akers kicked off and it went deep into the end zone and was downed for a touchback.

Akers kicked 67 yards to the Rams' 3.

Akers came on and booted a 23-yard field goal to give Philadelphia a 31-0 lead.

Akers kicked 64 yards to the Rams' 6